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Exclusive: MSP's ‘racist’ intervention on Palestine

SNP's Lyle refuses to apologise after saying that 1948 exile was self-inflicted

AN SNP MSP has been branded “racist” and “vile” after claiming that the Palestinian people inflicted exile on themselves.

In a proposed amendment to a motion marking the 72nd anniversary of the 1948 exodus, known as the Nakba, Richard Lyle seeks to blame the forced eviction of 700,000 people on Palestinian Arabs — branding it “self-inflicted.”

Two thirds of the Palestinian population were exiled after being violently removed from their homes during the first war of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with 450 towns and villages destroyed.

Mr Lyle has refused to apologise for the amendment despite outcry over its content.

Some within the SNP have condemned the move, calling the motion an “insult to every Palestinian worldwide” and describing it as a “disgusting piece of revisionist history.” 

Nadia El-Nakla, convenor of SNP Friends of Palestine, said: “It is disgraceful to suggest the Nakba and subsequent occupation which has led to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children is somehow self-inflicted.

“The abhorrent disrespect towards the Palestinian people is racist and hate-filled. 

“Richard Lyle should apologise to the party, to Scotland and to all the people of Palestine.”

Mr Lyle, the deputy convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Building Bridges with Israel, could now face discipline from within his own party, with SNP affiliate groups said to be reporting him to the national secretary.

The amended motion has garnered the support of just one other MSP, Conservative Adam Tomkins.

Labour’s Pauline McNeill said she, along with the author of the original motion, Sandra White, has received numerous complaints about Mr Lyle’s behaviour. 

The Glasgow MSP said: “The Nakba is the root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

“It is outrageous for any MSP who claims to be a progressive to state in a motion Palestinians have inflicted this on themselves.  

“I urge Mr Lyle to come and talk to Palestinians and hear the truth of the matter. He owes them an apology.”

Ross Greer, co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Palestine, added: “I am disgusted, but not surprised, Mr Lyle has attempted to amend a parliamentary motion marking the Nakba to label it a ‘self-inflicted tragedy’.

“Blaming the victims of ethnic cleansing for the crimes committed against them is vile.”

Campaigners say that the SNP should suspend the MSP with immediate effect. 

In a statement to the Morning Star, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “While the SNP in government works on streamlining hate crime legislation, they must act to ensure anti-Palestinian racism is not normalised but dealt with firmly within their own party and wider Scottish society.

“This is not a debate about history; today Israeli forces are attacking Palestinians. 

“Richard Lyle is an active defender of this project. It is time the SNP took action against the foul racism that drives such advocacy.”

Mr Lyle was approached by the Star and given the opportunity to apologise and withdraw his amendment, but did not respond. 

The SNP was also contacted by the Star, but did not clarify whether Mr Lyle’s motion reflected the views of the party.

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