WITH our world in the grip of crisis after crisis it is too easy to forget about the suffering of the Palestinian people. The increased violence this year and the loss of innocent life in Israel as well as Gaza has underlined the importance of restarting the Middle East peace process.

Yet when I got the chance to question the Prime Minister after the G7 summit it transpired that Palestine had not even been discussed. Johnson does not have a good track record on Palestine – for example, he recently opposed the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged war crimes in the territories occupied by Israel.

The Trump presidency actively damaged the prospects of peace and Biden (below) has a long way to go to restore Palestinian confidence in Washington’s desire for a just resolution of the current situation.

The National: Joe Biden delivers remarks to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate

Last weekend, I attended an event in Edinburgh which was an important and timely reminder of a lasting injustice, but also a reminder that Palestine is not just a war zone but an ancient land rich in history and culture.

The week-long Festival of Palestine in Scotland opened last Saturday and if you hurry you can still catch exhibits and events at St Columba’s by the Castle before it ends this weekend. Organised and hosted by Edinburgh Action for Palestine, Palestine Forum in Scotland and the Palestine History Tapestry Group, the event also reminds us how important culture is to the life of a nation.

Reminiscent of the Bayeux Tapestry and the Great Tapestry of Scotland, the Palestine History Tapestry illustrates the history of the land of Palestine from Neolithic times to the present. A selection of the hundreds of individual panels which make up the tapestry are on display at St Columba’s. They have been made by Palestinian women in the occupied territories and across the world, many in refugee camps, to remind us of their history, their heritage and their internationally recognised right to return to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948.

The opening of the festival also involved the showing of an inspiring short film Said the Dove to the Olive Tree, a love letter to Palestine. Featuring Scots-born Palestinian artist Amira Al Shanti and produced by Interbang Productions, it explores the complex feelings and identity of the Palestinian diaspora in Scotland and celebrates the solidarity between our two nations.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf speaks out amid Israeli air strikes as family feels 'helpless' in Gaza

My attendance at the opening marked the five-year anniversary of my visit to the West Bank as party of a cross party delegation with the Council for Arab-British Understanding and the Muslim charity Human Appeal. It was a profoundly affecting experience.

The start of the visit was marred by Israeli authorities refusing entry to one of our two delegates from Human Appeal. She had a UK passport, but she was a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. A visit to Lebanon apparent from her visa was given as the reason for refusal of entry. She was detained overnight and then sent back to UK. This incident was the first in a series of eye-opening experiences.

It’s hard to appreciate the size and scale of the Israeli settlements without seeing them. Experiencing how big, well-serviced and well-entrenched they are made it plain to me the scale of the difficulty faced in achieving a two-state solution.

I was shocked by the human rights abuses in the West Bank and the absence of the proper rule of law. There are parallel systems of law depending on whether you are Israeli or Palestinian. The state sanctions the theft of property and natural resources and Palestinians, particularly children, are treated appallingly in military detention. I witnessed this for myself when observing the Military Courts at Ofer.

In the five years since my visit the situation has got worse. The settlements on the West Bank have continued to expand with unprecedented pace and forced evictions of Muslims in East Jerusalem have become systemic.

The National: Jerusalem (Adam Davy/PA)

SCHOOLS continue to be demolished and Israeli operations are responsible for hundreds of fatalities including many children, particularly in Gaza. The international NGO Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli government of crimes against humanity and, controversially, of persecution and apartheid.

SNP MPs at Westminster try to be a strong voice for justice for Palestine and play an important role in cross-party efforts to get the issue higher up the British Government’s agenda. We strongly condemn all breaches of international law and violence and support the European Union position of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

The SNP have called for Palestine to be recognised as an independent state and the Scottish Parliament has passed a motion to that effect. This is of fundamental importance to precipitating equitable talks to build a lasting peace and we believe that the UK has a special responsibility for building a peaceful and sustainable resolution, given the UK’s colonial legacy in the region.

Under the current devolution settlement Holyrood has no competence in foreign affairs so, for now, its recognition of Palestine is only a symbolic act, but there is little doubt that one of the first acts of an independent Scottish Parliament would be to recognise the State of Palestine.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government takes what action it can with the powers it has. In line with other governments in Europe, it does not have a policy of boycotting goods from any one country, nor does it advocate a policy of boycotting Israel.

READ MORE: George Kerevan: Scotland must move beyond street protests in support of Palestine

However, the Scottish Government expects companies that are awarded public contracts to maintain high standards of business and professional conduct and strongly discourages trade with companies active in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories because these are recognised as illegal under international law.

SNP MPs have sponsored and signed two Early Day Motions against the illegal settlements and we have pushed the Tories to help rather than hinder the International Criminal Court as it carries out its investigation into the recent eviction of Muslim Israelis from East Jerusalem.

We have also called upon the Israeli government to reconsider its position of non-co-operation with this vital impartial investigation and argued for the UK Government to suspend arms exports to Israel and to divert humanitarian resources to help the Palestinian people rather than slashing the aid budget.

For so long as we continue to be at Westminster, we will be at the forefront of calls for an urgent and robust international response to the flagrant breaches of international law which continue to take place in the occupied territories in line with the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk.

While Israel has every right to its own independence and every right to protect its civilian population, it has no right under international law to invade neighbouring territories.

When they set out their Programme for Government in the Queen’s Speech, the Tories said they wanted to uphold human rights and democracy across the world. When it comes to the Palestinians they are failing to do so.

In the face of excessive force used by Israeli forces on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and against families in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, there came only mild criticism and zero consequences for those responsible. Yet this forced transfer and dispossession would constitute a war crime.

It is time for the UK to take a stronger stand on Palestinian rights and incumbent upon Scotland to see that it does.