Does the UK have influence? At the moment the country trying to broker a ceasefire is Russia, though Israel promptly rejected it. Yes the US sent a peace envoy, but he is a mid-ranking diplomat.
On 18 January the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that the UK was seriously concerned at Israel's decision to construct 780 new settlements across the occupied Palestinian Territories including deep within the West Bank. They are illegal under international law and risked undermining a two state solution. Just three days later Anthony Blinken (US Secretary Of State) reiterated that the US Embassy in Jerusalem would remain. That stance had been condemned 14-1 in the UN Security Council. The Israeli right were empowered by the Trump presidency. Those who thought Joe Biden would be markedly different were naive.
Last week the FCO issued a joint statement with France, Germany, Spain and Italy reiterating that evictions in East Jerusalem, for example Sheikh Jarrah, had undermined all attempts to built trust and called for meaningful dialogue towards a two state solution. Boris Johnson, wary of crossing the US, uttered weasel words suggesting both sides should step back.
Rioting has spread to Arab Israeli communities, notably Lod, and the European nations should now make a stand. Israel is dangerously close to civil war and, if Biden's fine words on human rights count for anything, he will demand that the theft of Palestinian land, in their hands prior to 1948, stops. However, he seems rather more preoccupied with supporting Israel's right to defend itself.
John V Lloyd
The Maltings, Keith Place, Inverkeithing
Several days after Saturday's riot in George Square and still no condemnation of those who took part from the hierarchy of the Scottish Conservative party.
Sectarian singing; public drunkenness; outbreaks of fighting; vandalism; police attacked; yet Conservative politicians seem to have adopted a vow of silence. It seems that if you want to riot, then waving the Union flag means you're immune to criticism from the Conservative party. A peculiar stance from the self-proclaimed “party of law and order”.
It's been evident for a while that there is an element within the Scottish Conservatives who seem keen to re-model themselves as a Scottish version of the DUP. The Tories' refusal to criticise Saturday's rioting in Glasgow would seem to endorse that. It's a sad reflection of today's Scottish Conservative party that it increasingly appears to be sectarian heavy but policy light.
Orwell Place, Edinburgh
It takes a peculiar form of verbal gymnastics by Alexander McKay (Letters, 18 May) to blame the violent attacks on the police by Unionist mobs in George Square on the SNP.
The SNP introduced The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 which created new criminal offences concerning sectarian behaviour at football games. Opposition MSPs crushed the Act rather than amend the bits they thought were wrong.
Aidan Smith’s article (same date) fails to mention the Unionist elephant in the room as Rangers Football Club appears to attract the wilder fringes of Unionism and some would argue that football acts as a safety valve against more serious public disorder.
However, as football supporters have pointed out to me, strict liability should be introduced whereby a club is deducted points every time offensive songs and chants are heard – then self-policing by fans would allow them to move into the 21st century.
Any Ulsterisation of Scotland is mainly down to the online abuse by hard-line Unionists who resent their sense of entitlement and privilege being challenged by those voters who seek self-government in a modern outward-looking inclusive Scotland.
Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Given that Glasgow and its environs are hotbeds of Scottish nationalist support, can anyone explain why there were so many Union flags flying in the crowds of Rangers supporters?
I think there is a pandemic of bad/anti-social behavior running in parallel with the Covid virus. At least we have managed by a gargantuan effort from all UK citizens to stem the tide of the latter.
In Scotland, however, the incidences of bad behaviour continue unabated: The Meadows in Edinburgh, Botanic Gardens in Glasgow, trashing picnic sites in Loch Lomond, Inverkip and on the Largs hill walking routes. Now we have the crazy spectacle of George Square in Glasgow. Are these human beings?
Society has to own up to these ridiculous patterns of behaviour and call it out in the classroom, at universities and colleges, in the family and at all the sports clubs.
If we don't, then we are going to end up a laughing stock, with all the much sought-after visitors we crave for our economy possibly deciding not to come here.
The majority of the anti-social behaviour would appear to be caused by a young age group with money to spend. It is time to get real and stop this once and for all.
Meigle, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire
House sparrows part of a Billion Bird Club, according to University of New South Wales ecologist Dr William Cornwell? Not in Britain, old boy!
At 52 I'm more likely to see in our garden a delightfully manic little flock of long-tailed tits than a single example of the commonest bird of my childhood.
No other native species in British history has suffered such a cataclysmic decline as our house sparrow population.
There are now only five million breeding pairs left according to the RSPB and still declining – 40 million having been wiped out in my lifetime.
This has been directly attributed to our insect population crash, and while we may debate those causes in turn, the fate of the humble sparrow – from commonest to endangered in half a century – is Britain's starkest warning about what we are doing to our environment.
Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
A lot of hot air
It is undoubtedly no coincidence that Renewables UK chose this week to release the result of their survey showing support for onshore wind farms.
They obviously got “wind” (pardon the pun), of Scotland Against Spin’s current petition to the Scottish Parliament seeking to “increase the ability of communities to influence planning decisions for onshore wind farms” and they are running scared. After all, Scotland has more turbines operational and in the planning system than the other three countries in the UK put together.
It’s a shame they have chosen to muddy the waters somewhat through a combination of the terms “renewable energy” and “onshore wind farm”. Did anyone who was surveyed understand the questions? And was there a reason they chose the seemingly random distance of (within) 8km from a wind farm on which to base their result?
Perhaps it was due to the fact that at that distance most communities would not be greatly affected by one wind farm and would welcome any associated community benefit on offer. If the thousands of residents who live much closer to multiple wind farms had been surveyed, then the results would have been entirely different, particularly if those with a financial interest in a wind farm were excluded from the result.
I doubt anyone will be taken in by this self-serving survey.
Scotland Against Spin, Ceres, Fife
The world mixed doubles curling championship is being held in Aberdeen this week, with competitors and media from around the world in attendance but nothing on Scottish television and nary a mention in the press.
Curling – a sport which Scotland invented and took to the world and one of very few in which we are still among the world leaders – gets zero coverage in its homeland.
Surely this would have been the perfect opportunity to give both the under-used BBC Scotland channel and this sport a much needed whiff of publicity. It could very well have been beneficial to both.
Pentland View Terrace, Roslin, Midlothian
The article by Chris Birt (Scotsman, 18 May) highlights the problem of only setting the focus on one aspect of poverty in Scotland.
For example, he claims that “priority should be given to an increase of around £1,000 a year (£20 per week) in child payment to reduce child poverty” without stating that a ban on gas, due for implementation at Holyrood, will result in a £4,000 a year reduction in household incomes (as renewable energy is so expensive), thus negating any benefit from his proposals.
In addition, an article by Ilona Amos (Scotsman, 13 May) indicates the cost to upgrade 100 homes in Aberdeen comes with a bill for £5.2 million (or around £52,000 per dwelling) What will be the impact on the Scottish economy of upgrading three million homes?
Surely a major debate is required at Holyrood over the hundreds of billions of pounds required to implement COP26 instead of another five years of arguments over IndyRef2.
Queen Street, Castle Douglas
Write to The Scotsman
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid Letters to the Editor in your subject line.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.