Oaks, olives and arms

IssueDecember 2021 - January 2022
News by Karin Reiter

There were two Palestine solidarity events in Montgomeryshire in September.

On 5 September, the Llanidloes – As Sawiya Friendship Association (LLASFA) held an ‘Oak and Olive’ event at Compton’s Yard Community Gardens in Llanidloes to raise money for olive tree-planting in Palestine. (As Sawiya is a Palestinian town in the middle of the West Bank.)

The sun shone and the beautiful gardens were filled with a wonderful atmosphere of warmth and international friendship.

The olive tree is a deeply cultural and historical symbol and olives are a vital source of income for Palestinian farmers. Thousands of Palestinian-owned trees, many hundreds of years old, have been wilfully destroyed by illegal Israeli settlers, often aided by the Israeli military, in a systematic attempt to drive Palestinians from their land.

The event raised over £500 for the planting of new olive trees in the West Bank and, in solidarity, LLASFA is planting an oak tree in rural Montgomeryshire.

Five days later, protesters gathered outside the Welshpool constituency office of Westminster MP Craig Williams. It was the day of the second hearing of Richard Burgon’s parliamentary bill to stop the arms trade between the UK and Israel.

Montgomeryshire Palestine Solidarity Campaign (MPSC) organised the protest after Craig Williams made it clear he would not support the bill.

Addressing the protest, MPSC chair Kathy Brooks described how UK-supplied arms were used by Israel in attacks on Gaza earlier this year – and in recent police and military action in Jerusalem and the West Bank. This contravened UK policy on the use of weapons exported to foreign countries. Brooks said: ‘If the UK enforced its own rules, there would already be an arms embargo in relation to Israel.’

The bill is next before the house of commons on 10 December.

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