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Nationalist MSP heckled for opposing motion condemning Israel's attacks on Gazans

Conrad Landin reports from Aberdeen

NATIONALIST MSP John Mason was heckled today for opposing a conference motion condemning Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Delegates at the SNP conference overwhelmingly endorsed a motion decrying Israel’s failure to respect UN resolutions on the Middle East, calling on the British government to “lead international efforts to end the siege on Gaza.”

But Glasgow Shettleston’s Mr Mason told the hall that “the Middle East is clearly a tricky subject” and that both Israel and Palestine were isolated in the region.

He said: “The Jewish community feels under threat, and anti-Israel feelings can very easily spill over into anti-Jewish feeling.

“Should we always cheer on one side, or cheer on the other, or is there a more constructive role we can play?”

He also criticised the proposers for their emphasis on international condemnation of illegal Israeli settlement expansion, saying UN resolutions were “not exactly the gold standard.”

Arguing that Scotland should see itself as a neutral peace-brokering force, Mr Mason said he blamed the “bigger players” for the Arab-Israeli conflict. He named the US, Russia and several Middle Eastern countries as holding responsibility.

The conference chair intervened to plead with delegates not to heckle Mr Mason’s contribution.

But SNP MP Philippa Whitford, who proposed the motion, said: “I am not trying to say that one side is the saint and one side is the sinner.”

She rubbished Mr Mason’s claim that Israel and Palestine were both “small nations” saying: “I hate to tell you Palestine is not recognised.

“You can’t have a two-state solution without two states.”

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