Actors, authors, academics and architects have today called on the government to push for immediate sanctions on Israel until it abides by international law and ends its occupation of Palestinian land.
They join other big names from the world of film and rock music, as well as 20,000 members of the public, who have signed a petition which will be delivered at the Houses of Parliament today.
The film directors, Ken Loach and Peter Kosminsky, actors Maxine Peake, Samuel West and Miriam Margolyes, musician Brian Eno, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the writers and academics, Tariq Ali and Karma Nabulsi, are among those* who have put their name to the call.
Will Alsop OBE, the RIBA award winning architect, another signatory, said: “‘I have signed the petition as I object to the people in the Gaza Strip being forced to live in a prison camp.”
Miriam Margolyes OBE, who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, said: “To my immense sadness, I feel bound to sign the petition calling for sanctions against Israel.
“Netanyahu is clearly committed to the continuation of the occupation, the settlements and the blatant flouting of UN resolutions. Only international sanctions can perhaps percolate the Israeli sensibility and persuade them to halt the wickedness they perpetrate.”
Explaining his reasons for adding his name to the petition, the film director Ken Loach said: “We should no longer accept Israel’s brazen flouting of international law, theft of Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people. When political leaders tolerate such brutality, civil society must take action. That means an international campaign of boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions to show the Israeli government that it cannot act in this manner with impunity.”
The petition has been organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation dedicated to campaigning for human rights and justice, in response to the hardline attitude of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Cabinet, whose members have been vocal in voicing their opposition to a Palestinian state.**
Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “One day before he was re-elected in March, Netanyahu stood in an illegal Israeli settlement and gave a televised interview in which he made it clear there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch.
“Since the election, members of his Cabinet have stated explicitly that they will not give up an inch of land to the Palestinians, and new settlement building has been announced in East Jerusalem.
“It is clear that this Israeli government, like others before it, has no commitment to international law or any kind of ‘peace process’. It is now imperative that our government pushes the EU to impose immediate sanctions on Israel, including a full two-way arms embargo.
“The Palestinians deserve a future free from occupation, apartheid and, in Gaza, crippling siege. The imposition of sanctions by our government and the EU will go a long way to achieving this.”
Lanning will join Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Group, Haya Al-Farra from the Palestinian Mission in the UK, and Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to deliver the petition to the office of the Prime Minister.
The hand-in will take place at 2.15pm on 23rd June, during PSC’s National Lobby of Parliament for Palestine, during which up to 168 MPs will be lobbied by constituents on the subject of Palestine.
Notes for editors
*Signatories to the petition include: Tariq Ali (writer, journalist, filmmaker), Will Alsop (architect), Jonathan Chadwick (theatre director, writer), Selma Dabbagh (writer),Brian Eno (musician),Peter Kosminsky (writer, director, producer), Paul Laverty (lawyer, scriptwriter),Ken Loach (director), Miriam Margolyes (actor), Karma Nabulsi (writer, academic), Maxine Peake (actor), Alexei Sayle (comedian, writer, presenter), Ahdaf Soueif (writer, commentator), Samuel West (actor), Benjamin Zephaniah (poet, writer, musician).
**Quotes from Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his Cabinet: “We are not going to give up more land…if it means that the world will penalize us, that is unfair but so be it.” (2015) Naftali Bennett, Education Minister
“We should manage the conflict and not give up on any centimetre of land.” (2015) Ayelet Shaked, Justice Minister
“This land is ours. All of it is ours.” (2015) Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister
“We are all against a Palestinian state, there is no question about it.” (2015) Silvan Shalom, Interior Minister
“Enough with the two-state-solution…We don’t want a Palestinian State.” (2012) Danny Danon, Science, Technology & Space Minister
“I certainly think a Palestinian state is no solution… Which raises the question: What do you do with the Palestinian population?” (2013) Zeev Elkin, Minister of Jerusalem
“There will be just one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel.” (2014) Uri Ariel, Agriculture Minister
“I will not agree to a Palestinian state.” (2013) Yisrael Katz, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister
“There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of [the West Bank].” (2014) Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister
*** The full text of the petition delivered to David Cameron is available here
This media release was sent to national and international media on 23 June 2015