Palestine group will not meet us, says pro-Israel convenor


THE Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Palestine has refused to have any discussions with the Cross-Party Group on Building Bridges with Israel.

This was revealed by Building Bridges with Israel convenor Jackson Carlaw MSP at Giffnock Synagogue.

Mr Carlaw and fellow Conservative East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton met the community at their request to give an update on what they were doing.

The meeting, organised by the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, was chaired by Honorary Consul of Israel in Scotland Stanley Lovatt.

Deputy Scottish Conservative leader Mr Carlaw, who will become interim leader while Ruth Davidson is on maternity leave, said: “One of our objectives was to contact the Cross-Party Group on Palestine to set up an initial dialogue.

“I got in touch with them and when there was no response, I contacted them again, asking if we could sit down and chat, just the six main parties of the two groups.

“They responded that there wasn’t anything they could discuss as there was nothing they could say to us.

“There’s a real job we have to do here in Scotland. Antisemitism includes saying that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist in the first place.

“The day-to-day pressures on you as a Jewish community having to deal with it all must be very trying.”

Mr Masterton said: “When I came into politics, my knowledge of Israel was pretty superficial, but what I found interesting was engaging with the community in a way I hadn’t done before. I was able to visit Israel for the first time in February and that was huge.

“Having seen it for myself, often you hear things from the other side that are so uninformed.

“It made me understand so much more of what Israel faces. It allows you to speak with a great deal more sincerity.

“There’s so much dishonesty with some of the party leaders and it’s important not to be scared to speak out.”

Mr Masterton was asked by the Jewish Telegraph why the UK government had abstained on the recent UN vote condemning Israel’s response to the attempts to breach its border with Gaza.

Mr Masterton said: “The government feels it has to tread a very careful line.

“It treats its relationship with Israel very seriously, but often the decision is taken that if we vote against these motions we might not be in a position where we can be seen to be able to speak to both sides to aid the peace process.

“The government has made it very clear that it is unhappy with the UN and UNWRA and that Israel has the right to defend itself and its people.”

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