Members of Brent PSC in Brent Central and local Lib Dem councillor Ann Hunter met Sarah Teather MP on Wednesday 8 December to raise various issues related to the Palestinian issue. Ms. Teather, who previously as the MP for Brent East had visited Gaza twice, said the impressions made on her during those visits made it hard for her to change her views and feelings of support on this issue. The meeting was part of the PSC’s annual lobby of MPs; however, it was not possible for campaigners and Ms. Teather to meet on 24 November and hence the December meeting instead.
One of the key issues campaigners wished to raise was s. 151 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which is to introduce an amendment to the laws on universal jurisdiction in the UK, adding a political element to what should be wholly a judicial matter. Campaigners from the PSC and other NGOs do not believe the law needs amending; however, due to a misunderstanding, it was not possible for Ms. Teather to give her opinion on this matter during the meeting. We hope she is able to do so before this bill has its second reading (debate and vote) in the House of Commons on Monday 13 December.
Other issues raised were Israeli settlements, the labelling of goods from settlements and the siege of Gaza. Ms.Teather promised to take up these issues and we look forward to her response on these issues. It is encouraging that Ms.Teather, also Minister for Children and Families, is supportive of this issue. Nonetheless, she spoke of “horse trading” or bargaining to get support on these issues among parliamentarians and the government; concessions have to be made on some issues in order to make gains on others. It must, however, be pointed out that human life and human rights are not bargaining chips and all of the issues raised are of equal importance and are non-negotiable, largely under international law as well.