Green leader Natalie Bennett backs cultural boycott of Israel

By Sandy Rashty, April 17, 2015
Natalie Bennett taking part in the BBC Election Debate on Thursday night (Photo: BBC)

Natalie Bennett taking part in the BBC Election Debate on Thursday night (Photo: BBC)

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said she backed the boycott of Israeli artists, musicians and academics in an interview with the JC on Friday.

Ms Bennett, who is standing for Holborn & St Pancras, supported the party’s official Israel boycott policy.

She said: “We need to get the message across to the Israeli state. It needs to comply with international law and human rights.

“The boycott of Israel is Green Party policy. It is a really difficult area, but I would support the policy.”

The Green Party manifesto, which was released this week, called for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which is worth more than £1 billion a year.

Ms Bennett, who has never been to Israel or the West Bank, said: “That agreement should be contingent on respecting human rights and international law. Until Israel is in compliance with international law, I don’t think we should have that trade deal.

“I believe we should stop arms sale to Israel. I believe that we should be using diplomatic pressure to push Israel to respect international law and UN resolutions.

“I believe we should also stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

The Green Party has come under fire after Twickenham candidate Tanya Williams called Israel “a racist and apartheid state” on Tuesday and deputy leader Sharer Ali was filmed at an anti-Israel rally saying: “Just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust Memorial Day it does not mean you have learned the lessons of history.”

Ms Bennett said she would not make comparisons between the Holocaust and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but added: “When I am talking about the situation between Palestine and Israel, I focus on the behaviour of the Israeli government.

“Britain’s place in the world should be as a champion of human rights and democracy.”

The Australia-born leader said she did not plan to visit the Middle East when asked if she would ever consider going to Israel.

“I have sort of lost my travel lust to be honest,” she said.

“I am Australian, I travelled a lot, I came to Europe and I travelled around Asia.

“These days, when I have holidays, I tend to sit somewhere very quiet in a bit of nature and not move.”

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Last updated: 5:24pm, April 17 2015