A Policy of Punishment
|Sunday, September 10,2006 00:00|
|By Ismail Haniyeh, The Guardian|
Your people understand the Palestinians suffer a great injustice, Mr Blair - but you are adding to it
Despite Israeli war crimes against our people and assassinations of our leaders, the Palestinians introduced to the region one of the most transparent democratic experiences ever. The response of the British government has been to back the US and Israel in imposing boycotts and sanctions, in a blatant act of collective punishment. Since the legislative elections in January 2006, the Palestinian people have endured an effective state of siege and economic and diplomatic boycotts, and the Israeli military machine has been given free rein. During July and August, Israeli occupation troops killed 251 Palestinians, about half of them civilians - without a word of criticism from the British government.
Here in Palestine we wonder what the British public thinks of the Blair government conduct that has brought about untold hurt to the Palestinian people. We know why our people are being collectively punished. It is because we refuse to give up our right to freedom and independence.
At the heart of our region’s problems is the Israeli occupation, which has brought about endless suffering and disasters. If you wish to do the right thing, Mr Blair, then work for the end of occupation without further delay. Our message to Labour party delegates as they assemble this month is not to allow those who stand with our oppressors to divert you from your values and historic association with freedom movements around the world.
We receive signals here that the British public is unhappy about what Blair’s government has been doing to our people. We know for sure that the majority of the British people did not approve of the invasion of Iraq. We greatly commend them for such a stance and thank them for sympathising with us in our plight. It is only through justice that peace will prevail in our region and Muslims, Christians and Jews once again live in harmony.
· Ismail Haniyeh is the Palestinian prime minister and a Hamas leader