MAP at SNP annual conference: “Accountability is the key” to ending humanitarian needs

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) was delighted to be in Aberdeen this week for the Scottish National Party annual conference. At a well-attended fringe event organised by SNP Friends of Palestine, MAP’s Advocacy and Campaigns Manager Rohan Talbot joined a panel discussion on the topic of “Standing up for Palestinian rights under increasing Israeli and US attacks”.

The other panellists were Dr Mustafa Barghouti (General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative and President of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society), Tommy Sheppard (SNP Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East), and Ben Jamal (Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign). All spoke passionately about the manifold challenges to Palestinian rights and the action needed to address these. The event was chaired by Chair of SNP Friends of Palestine, Nadia El-Nakla, who grounded the discussion in the lived experience of Palestinians living under occupation, including her own family in Gaza.

Rohan began the discussion by outlining how violations of international law are driving growing humanitarian needs among Palestinian communities across all the areas in which MAP works. He highlighted how in Lebanon, the US administration’s decision to cut all funding to UNRWA means that “the essential services Palestinian refugees rely on in Lebanon – and their very rights – are more precarious than ever”. He described how Gaza’s healthcare system continues to “teeter on the brink of collapse” behind Israel’s illegal 12-year closure, a situation seriously exacerbated by the influx of casualties from Israel’s ongoing use of teargas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition against those taking part in the ‘Great March of Return’ protests:

“More than 200 people have been killed and 34,400 people injured, among them health workers, children and journalists. A UN Commission of Inquiry report earlier this year found that Israel’s use of force in this context may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Governments must stop treating the Palestinian people as though they are the victims of some inevitable natural disaster, and instead ensure that foreign policy and international aid is rooted in a steadfast support for international law.”

“Among the injured are 7,500 people who have been shot with live ammunition. MAP – which has been working to support the development of a specialist limb reconstruction unit inside Gaza’s largest hospital since 2013 – estimates that 1,300-1,700 of these will require up to two years of painful and expensive treatment. Those who cannot get adequate treatment in Gaza’s beleaguered healthcare system face the prospect of permanent disability and even amputation.”

Regarding the West Bank, Rohan suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to annex large parts of the Jordan Valley “would simply be a formalisation of a longstanding context of injustice, marginalisation, and denial of basic rights”. He highlighted how the Bedouin communities served by the MAP-supported mobile clinic in these areas “live under the constant threat of home demolitions, forcible transfer, and attacks from settlers, deeply undermining their psychological and physical wellbeing”.

“Their access to water, grazing land and livelihoods is severely restricted, in stark contrast to the conditions of those living in neighbouring illegal settlements. Food insecurity is rife, with 23% of children stunted, meaning they will never meet their full potential. They are prevented from developing their communities and building permanent healthcare infrastructure such as clinics by Israel’s discriminatory planning regime.”

Rohan underscored that, as impunity for violations of international law is a key driver of the humanitarian needs faced by Palestinian communities, “governments must stop treating the Palestinian people as though they are the victims of some inevitable natural disaster, and instead ensure that foreign policy and international aid is rooted in a steadfast support for international law.” He thanked MPs from all parties, including Tommy Sheppard, who have visited the occupied Palestinian territory for themselves to better understand the situation, and who continue to speak out in Parliament for action in support of accountability, self-determination and the rights to health and dignity for Palestinians.

MAP would like to thank SNP Friends of Palestine for hosting the event, as well as to Dr Barghouti and the PSC, and to all the MPs, MSPs, councillors and other delegates at the conference who both attended our fringe meeting and stopped by the conference stall to hear about MAP’s work and discuss ways to support the health and dignity of Palestinians.

(Photo credit: Cllr. Laura Murtagh)



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