Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas told constituents that Israeli authorities were responsible for “blocking humanitarian aid” and “humiliating” the people of Gaza during a pro-Israel lobby day in Parliament.
Dr Lucas, who is a member of the British-Palestine Parliamentary Group and is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), agreed to attend a meeting organised by Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) on Wednesday.
She agreed to meet the 19 constituents, non-constituents and interested parties to discuss the boycott of the Israeli EcoStream store, Batsheva dance performance, her strong friendship with Baroness Tonge and her outspoken stance against the Israeli government.
Simon Cobbs, a founding member of SFI, explained: “We asked everyone to send her emails and encourage her to attend the meeting. I was sure she would cancel and she nearly did by saying the room was too small a day before.
“It took us six months to organise this meeting. Her constituents, the people who get spat at and abused from members of the PSC for supporting EcoStream, should be her priority.”
Last year two men were arrested and one anti-Israel activist was fined for making a Nazi salute outside the EcoStream shop.
After people told the Green Party MP of the antisemitic abuse they suffered from PSC protestors outside the environmentally-friendly shop, Dr Lucas said she would need “real hard evidence” of the abuse.
“If I get evidence of it, then I am more than delighted to completely oppose it,” she said.
Dr Lucas rejected claims that if the protests did not move from directly outside EcoStream, the store would close.
But she was more responsive when Roman Fox, a gay Jewish member of SFI, told her he suffered antisemitic and homophobic abuse.
“I would be happy to come and stand with you and see what abuse you face,” Dr Lucas promised.
However, one frustrated Jewish man left the meeting when Dr Lucas asked people what they thought “of the increasing number of Israeli settlements in the area?
“I’ve been to Gaza, I see what Israeli authorities do and what is going on there. There are humiliating military checkpoints. The people of Gaza are not able to get access to their books or repair their homes.”
Speaking about the Palestinian Authority, Dr Lucas said: “Fatah is a lot less oppressive than Hamas. Some politicians I’ve met from Fatah are absolutely enlightened. I am not defending Hamas, I’m defending the people of Gaza. The Gaza people are suffering.”
The MP said she recognised that “there is a huge threat to the people in Israel” from other countries, but said she would support “actions to neutralise Iran – but not a military intervention.
“Not everything Palestine does is right and Israel does is wrong.
“My whole political career is about upholding human rights."
Speaking after the half-hour meeting, Mr Fox said: "She seemed really concerned about homophobic abuse and took on board that gay people in Palestine are shot and escape to Tel Aviv.”
Mr Cobbs added: “I think she was shocked by the depth of feeling and the amount of abuse people suffered.
“But by still being inactive on the protests outside Ecostream, she’s effectively supporting the shop closing.”