August 22, 2007

UK's sporting boycott of Palestine

I've seen reports of this latest anti-Palestine move by our government via emails from various egroups. The UK has denied visa to a Gaza based under 19 football team because the appalling situation in Gaza means that they may not return there. There is also a chance that Israel might bar their return. Apparently the UK is now denying that latter admission of the casualness of Israel's ethnic cleansing, which leaves the first explanation as the official one, though even that has been committed to print as far as I know. War on Want has the following press release on the matter:
UK 'hypocrisy' over Palestine soccer ban

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today condemned the British government's decision to refuse visas to a team of Palestinian footballers due to play a series of matches in England.

The decision to ban the team from entering Britain, apparently taken at a high level within the UK government, comes days before the Palestinian under-19 team was due to arrive in England, with games against teams including Chester City, Tranmere Rovers and Blackburn.

According to War on Want, the refusal stands in marked contrast to the welcome given the Israeli national team, due to play England at Wembley in a Euro 2008 qualifier on 8 September. This is despite calls for that match to be cancelled in protest at continuing Israeli assaults on Palestinian towns, including the bombing of the national football stadium. Last year Israeli armed forces killed around 650 Palestinians, mainly unarmed civilians and among them 130 children. In the same period Palestinian armed groups killed 23 Israelis, including one child.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: "It is disgraceful that the British government has refused visas to the Palestinian football team on the eve of its tour. The Israeli football team will be welcomed to Wembley to play England in the forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifier, despite the Israeli military's continuing violation of Palestinian rights. This is another sign of the hypocrisy of the British government in its treatment of the Palestinians, and underlines the urgent need for Gordon Brown to adopt a fresh approach to the conflict."
Some chance of that happening.

I don't know the value of writing to MPs on these issues but I'm going to give it a go. Perhaps you could do the same.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is running an action alert on this and even Engage is running an Independent article on it and it makes the following suggestion:
Letters of protest may be sent to the Foreign Office, at King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH.


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