Alex Salmond calls for Israel trade rethink

By Robyn Rosen, April 8, 2010
Alex Salmond: expulsion not enough

Alex Salmond: expulsion not enough

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has called for legal action and a review of trading relationships with Israel after David Miliband announced that Britain formally blamed the country for cloning UK passports during the Dubai operation.

Mr Salmond replied to a question on BBC's Question Time last week, about the decision by the Foreign Secretary to expel an Israeli diplomat. The expulsion followed an investigation into the cloning of up to 15 British passports, in the operation leading to the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January.

Mr Salmond said that Mr Miliband's actions were "not enough".

He said: "Friendly countries don't steal the passports of other countries' citizens and use that as part of an arrangement to assassinate their political enemies. And therefore it has to be treated in the context of the seriousness of what the Foreign Secretary believes that Israel have been doing.

"Stealing peoples' passports - and indeed the assassination - must be a criminal offence. Surely, if the Foreign Secretary has now identified to his satisfaction that Israel is responsible, then he should be thinking of legal action.

"In terms of the relationship with the Israeli government, it should be more than expelling a diplomat, there should be implications, for example in trading relationships.

"You can't have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in, according to the Foreign Secretary.

"But certainly, whatever measures you take, it cannot just be a diplomatic dance."

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) have welcomed the comments and hope they will lead to the cancellation of an exhibition due to be held in the Scottish Parliament later this month.

The exhibition, highlighting Israel's contribution to medicine, science and technology, is organised by the Scottish Friends of Israel and sponsored by MSP Ken McIntosh.

A petition by Sofiah Macleod of the SPSC has already been lodged with the Scottish Parliament, denouncing the exhibition as a "shameless PR exercise" and calling for its cancellation.

She said: "Hosting this exhibition in the Scottish Parliament potentially implicates all of us in a whitewashing of Israeli crimes."

But a Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: "Members are fully entitled to sponsor exhibitions in the parliament which have relevance to their parliamentary or constituency roles."

Myer Green of the Scottish Friends of Israel said: "Alex Salmond's comments are a very serious condemnation of Israel which leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

"The exhibition may well trigger certain motions in parliament which will attract anti-Israel commentary. But the appropriate people have approved the exhibition. We simply want to make people aware of Israel's exceptional contribution to society."

Last updated: 1:27pm, April 8 2010