Five Palestinian student leaders flew to London to show their appreciation for Members of the UK Parliament who voted in favour of recognising the state of Palestine in a debate in the House of Commons.
They presented 45 MPs – including Sir Alan Duncan, pictured right – with inscribed commemorative shields made in Bethlehem out of olive wood to thank them for their support at a meeting in the House of
Commons on Tuesday February 24th.
The five Palestinians, Iyad Dwikat, Mohammed
Abuamira, Makram Daraghma, Tareq Eshnino and Abd-Alrahman Barghouthi, brought a letter of thanks to the MPs from the Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah.
Makram Daraghma, who is the Prime Minister’s youth adviser, spoke briefly at the presentation and Tareq Eshnino, who is from Gaza, updated the MPs on the latest situation in the war-battered enclave.
The presentation was organised by the General Union of Palestinian Students which represents hundreds of students from the West Bank and Gaza studying at British universities.
The union’s Secretary-General, Fouad Shaath, told the MPs: “I don’t know whether MPs have any idea just how much encouragement this vote gave to Palestinians. We often feel close to despair – but this vote gave us hope.
“The vote was supported by MPs of every party in Britain and it was welcomed by supporters of every party in Palestine.
“The example set by British MPs was soon followed in Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and the European Parliament and we believe that parliamentarians can galvanise their governments into international action that will bring us justice and peace.”
The Palestinian students’ union has members in universities across the UK and will be pressing all parties, all MPs and all candidates to declare their support for the recognition of Palestine in the coming election campaign.
The House of Commons voted last October in a backbenchers’ debate on a motion “that this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. The result was 274 in favour and 12 against.
The MPs who were presented with commemorative plaques was also cross-party, including 11 Conservatives, six Liberal Democrats and 27 Labour MPs.
Six were former ministers in the present government and six were Opposition front-benchers or former ministers. They included Rushanara Ali, Dave Anderson, Gordon Banks, Anne Begg, Clive Betts, Richard Burden, Sarah Champion, Katy Clark, Michael Connarty, Jeremy Corbyn, Margaret Curran, John Denham, Frank Doran, Rt Hon Alan Duncan, Sir Edward Garnier QC, Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan, Mike Hancock CBE, Nick Harvey, Philip Hollobone, Jim Hood, David Jones, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Barbara Keeley, Mark Lazarowicz, Karen Lumley, Fiona Mactaggart, Anne Main, Andy McDonald, John McDonnell, Jim McGovern, Ann McKechin, Grahame Morris, Eric Ollerenshaw, John Pugh, Hugh Robertson, Bob Russell, Anas Sarwar, Alison Seabeck, Andy Slaughter, Andrew Stephenson, Andrew Stunell, Valerie Vaz, David Ward and James Wharton.
The Palestinian student leaders who attended the presentation were:
· Makram Daraghma, adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, former student leader Al Najah University, Nablus,
· Iyad Dwikat, youth adviser to Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, former student leader Al Najah University, Nablus,
· Tareq Eshnino, former students leader Al Azhar University, Gaza,
· Mohammed Abuamira, advisor to Mayor of Jenin, former student leader Jenin University
· Abd-Alrahman Barghouthi, adviser to Mayor of Ramallah
The inscription on the shields was: “We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for your continuous efforts to champion Palestinian statehood and human rights” The General Union of Palestinian Students
Contacts from the General Union of Palestinian Students: