Ceasefire Now

Ross Greer MSP delivered a powerful speech in the Scottish Parliament calling for an end to the fighting in Gaza. Here it is in full.

The last few weeks have shown us the extent of the lie that every life is equal in this world.

The Scottish Greens mourn the loss of every innocent life, Palestinian and Israeli.

We condemn every act of terror, whether it's Hamas’ evil attack on a music festival or Israel bombing a hospital.

Terrorism is to be condemned, regardless of who is responsible.

Hamas are quite clearly responsible for heinous acts of terrorism.

So are the Israeli government.

So are the extremist Israeli settlers illegally occupying the West Bank.

What else do you call the bombing of a school or hospital?

The murder of journalists like Shireen Abu-Akleh?

Shooting Palestinian footballers in the feet?

Burning 18-month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh alive in his home?

This conflict didn’t start on October 7th.

The State of Israel was founded by terrorist groups like the Irgun, predecessor to Netenyahu’s Likud party.

Its founding is known to Palestinians as the Nakba - disaster.

700,000 Palestinian Arabs were ethnically cleansed from their homeland, 500 Palestinian villages destroyed and infamous massacres like that at Deir Yassin took place.

For Palestinians the Nakba wasn’t an event in 1948.

It has continued for 75 years.

The idea that the current Israeli assault on Gaza is targeted purely at Hamas is a lie.

Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet, now a Likud minister in the government, said the following on live TV this week: "We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba.”

Israeli’s President Isaac Herzog claimed there are ‘no innocent civilians in Gaza’ despite the armed wing of Hamas totalling at most 50,000 men from a civilian population of 2.4 million.

Amihai Eliyahu, a Minister from the fascist Jewish Power party suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza.

His party leader and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, has previously been convicted for his membership of a terrorist group and for years hung a portrait in his living room of a terrorist who massacred 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers.

There are countless other examples and I raise them to point out that the terrorists aren’t all on one side.

As a proud defender of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, I don’t hesitate to condemn the vile terrorism, the evil of Hamas.

So why do so many of Israel’s defenders find it impossible to condemn the state terrorism of this government and those which has preceded it since 1949?

Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. That is the verdict of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israeli human rights group Breaking The Silence.

The hypocrisy of Western leaders here has been staggering.

The UK, US, EU and others were unequivocal in condemning Russian war crimes, including the targeting of civilian infrastructure and cutting off power and water to civilians.

But in the face of Israel’s equally outrageous, equally blatant war crimes we get silence, equivocation or worse.

Keir Starmer defended the criminal act of cutting off water and power to Gaza.

Rishi Sunak told Netenyahu ‘We want you to win’.

We know what the Israeli government thinks victory looks like - the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and the ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

That victory would be a monumental defeat for the system of international law which the UK was instrumental in establishing after the horrors of the Second World War.

The killing must stop.

Not pause - stop.

What is the purpose of short pauses?

To give Gazans a break to drink some water they don’t have?

To eat some food they don’t have?

Bodies are piling up in the streets.

Morgues are full and it isn’t even safe to bury the dead.

There are reports of hundreds of families wiped out entirely, with no survivors left to carry on their name.

Palestine’s small Christian community, whose presence in their land goes back to the time of Christ himself, faces total destruction.

One common response I’ve had recently from Israel’s defenders is to bring up the horrible treatment of LGBTQ people by Hamas as if that obliges me to support the Israeli occupation instead.

Often those responses have gone beyond Hamas into offensive generalisations about the attitude of all Palestinians towards Queer people.

A position which erases Queer Palestinians themselves.

Not only are many Gazans writing their names on their arms to make their bodies easier to identify after they are killed by Israeli airstrikes, they are posting what could be their final messages online, to be remembered as more than statistics.

LGBTQ Gazans are using the Queering the Map project to do so.

I want to share some of those messages now:

‘I’ve always imagined you and me sitting out in the sun, hand and hand, free at least. We spoke of all the places we would go if we could. Yet you are gone now. If I had known that bombs raining down on us would take you from me, I would gladly have told the world how I adore dyou more than anything. I am sorry I was a coward.’

I don’t know how long I will live so I just want this to be my memory here before I die. I am not going to leave my home, come what may. My biggest regret is not kissing this one guy. He died two days back. We had told how much we liked each other and I was too shy to kiss last time. He died in the bombing. I think a big part of me died too. And soon I will be dead. To Younis, I will kiss you in heaven.’

‘Please know despite what media says there are gay Palestinians. We are here, we are queer. Free Palestine.’

Presiding Officer, there is no liberation for LGBTQ Palestinians when Israeli soldiers are literally raising the rainbow flag over the rubble they are buried beneath.

Genocide cannot be pinkwashed.

To briefly touching on the amendments:

The Greens welcome Labour’s. We have also called repeatedly for all sides to be held to account by the ICC.

If the Liberal Democrat amendment were pushed we would have to abstain on it because whilst it contains that important line about there being no military solution, and whilst we share their contempt for Hamas, I think there is a contradiction in calling for a bilateral ceasefire and the total removal of one side. 

That gives Hamas no incentive to agree to the ceasefire.

The conditions for peace are obvious.

The unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and the release of political prisoners - including children - held by Israel.

An end to the sixteen-year long Israeli siege of Gaza.

Israel withdrawing its illegal settlements and apartheid walls from the West Bank.

Fresh elections across Palestine.

And the right to self-determination for Palestinians and Israelis.

A two-state solution may be the most likely outcome of that, but it is for them to decide.

And we acknowledge the calls from some Israeli peace activists in particular for one secular state.

Presiding Officer, no-one is free until everyone is free.

Palestinian lives must be equal to that of Israelis or Scots.

Scotland has a proud history of standing in solidarity with our Palestinian friends.

Today we will do so again as we call for an end to the killing.

Today one message will come clearly from this Parliament:

Ceasefire now.