A SENIOR Palestinian diplomat has accused an MSP of insulting his “entire nation” after claiming the people’s troubles are “self-inflicted”.
Long-serving SNP politician Richard Lyle said he had been trying to “provoke discussion” when he called the forced exodus of 750,000 people in 1948 – known by Palestinians as the Nakba – a “self-inflicted tragedy”.
The phrase was used in an amendment table by Lyle to a motion put forward by party colleague Sandra White last month. She sought to acknowledge “generations of pain” she says has been caused to Palestinians by the move, which saw ancestral lands cleared for the formation of the state of Israel.
In his amendment, Lyle – deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Building Bridges With Israel group – stated that the issue of Nakba, which means catastrophe, “must, after all these years, be finally resolved by peaceful means and discussions between the parties involved”.
But Nadia El-Nakla, convenor of SNP Friends of Palestine, accused Lyle of revisionism, stating: “It is disgraceful to suggest the Nakba and subsequent occupation which has led to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children is somehow self-inflicted.
“The abhorrent disrespect towards the Palestinian people is racist and hate-filled.”
Now ambassador Husam Zomlot (above), the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, has called on the SNP to provide “urgent clarification” over Lyle’s stance. He stated: “This is a patently absurd revision of history. The Palestinian displacement of 1947-49 was a deliberate act that had been meticulously planned by a Zionist leadership intent on carving out a Jewish-only state in the territory.
“To suggest that the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians is somehow their own fault is an outrageous insult, not only to Palestinians, but to refugees fleeing violence, persecution and war and victims of ethnic cleansing everywhere and at all times.”
Zomlot went on: “Mr Lyle has insulted an entire nation. Furthermore, the language Mr Lyle uses fosters a culture of victim blaming which is not only unacceptable but sets a precedence.”
Lyle’s amendment states that 20% of Israeli citizens are “Arabs who chose not to flee in 1948 and who enjoy their democratic rights in Israel and contribute meaningfully to Israel society at all levels”.
Zomlot’s office said that hopes of resolution in the region are “futile” without a “proper understanding” of the causes of the conflict. He stated: “Without such understanding, addressing all legitimate grievances and thus achieving a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis will be impossible.”
The SNP said they “fully support a two-state solution and has called on the UK to formally recognise Palestine as an independent state”, adding: “Israel and Palestine must reach a sustainable, negotiated settlement based on mutual recognition and the determination to co-exist peacefully.”
Last week, Lyle said: “I implore the Palestinian and Jewish peoples to sit down and negotiate a two-state solution and end the bloodshed. I never have or never will be racist, as those who know me would agree.”