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Scott wants UK to stop arming Israel

MSP Tavish Scott has made separate pleas to end the export of arms to Israel and to clamp down on issuing firearms to police in the Highlands and Islands.

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is calling for an end to UK arms exports being used by Israel to target the people of Gaza.

He was speaking after figures showed that £42 million-worth of arms has been exported from the UK to Israel since 2010.

There is a major humanitarian crisis in Gaza following the deaths of an estimated 1,900 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. A 72-hour truce began on Tuesday.

Scott has signed cross-party Scottish Parliamentary motions calling for an end to the armed conflict between the Israeli government and Hamas in Gaza.

On Thursday he will join a Gaza lobby of the Scottish Parliament organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which will see MSPs stand behind a banner reading “End the siege in Gaza”.

Two weeks ago independent list MSP Jean Urquhart called for Prime Minister David Cameron to introduce sanctions against Israel, saying that in “any other conflict” action would have been taken years ago.

Scott said: “I want to make clear my opposition to the actions of the Israeli government and end the massacre of people in Gaza. The UK Government must immediately stop weapons being exported from Britain to Israel and I firmly support the actions of the UK deputy prime minister to achieve this.”

He said the resignation of Conservative minister Baroness Warsi showed that there was opposition across political parties to the Israeli government’s actions.

Scott’s Liberal Democrat colleague at Westminster, Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, is also a member of the UK government.

“The UN, EU and individual national governments must move on from simply condemning the slaughter and calling for a ceasefire,” Scott said.

“We need concrete action and I ask the UK Government to immediately bring arms exports to an end. The UN estimates that 485,000 people have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the month long war.

“Since the Israeli offensive began there have been 4,760 air strikes on Gaza. The UN estimates that at least 85 per cent of Palestinian deaths are civilians. We cannot stand by and let this continue any longer.”

Meanwhile, Scott has welcomed the news that Scotland’s sports minister Shona Robison has agreed to meet him to discuss the transport costs faced by isles athletes and sports clubs when parliament returns following the 18 September independence referendum.

Scott said there was much talk of the legacy of the Commonwealth Games following Team Scotland’s “tremendous achievements” in Glasgow.

“What better way to recognise the success of Lynda Flaws, Erraid Davies and Andrea Strachan [than] that [the] government agree[ing] to assist with athletes’ travel costs?

“I know the personal commitment that many Shetlnad families make to taking sons and daughters to venues across Scotland. A real gain from Glasgow 2014 for Shetland would be practical transport help on costs.”

Scott has also written to the Scottish justice secretary Kenny McAskill calling for a full review of armed policing in the Highlands and Islands.

He said officers carrying firearms was “unnecessary and totally inappropriate” when crime figures for 2012/13 showed firearms offences had fallen to their lowest level in a decade.

“Many Shetlanders have contacted me about the routine use of armed police in the Highlands and Islands,” Scott said.

“Their main question tends always to be the same. Why do we need police to be armed on the beat when the rate of firearm-related crime is so low? The answer is simple. We don’t!

“Had the Northern Constabulary still been Shetland’s local police service there is no way routinely armed police officers would be walking local streets in the Highlands.”

He claimed it was “yet another case of the SNP Government imposing central belt policy upon communities” and would “only serve to frighten people and encourage criminals to arm themselves more heavily”.