The action taken yesterday by the Israeli Knesset is discriminatory and formally creates a two-tier system of rights within Israel. It formalises as second-class citizens any non-Jewish community, particularly the 20% of the population who are Palestinian Arabs. The new law also allows for the creation of communities based on religion, something that raises worrying parallels with apartheid.
Jerusalem is a city of unique significance to the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In referring to the city exclusively as the capital and home of one of those religions, the new law jeopardises inter-faith understanding. It also recklessly prejudices the prospects for peace in the Middle East by undermining the long-established international agreement that the future status of Jerusalem can only be decided through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
This is the latest in a string of laws passed by the Knesset designed to strip Palestinians of their rights bit by bit. It also goes hand-in-hand with the Israeli Government’s destruction of the prospects for a viable Palestinian state through the demolition of Palestinian homes and the ongoing construction of illegal settlements.
Yachad, who work in the British Jewish community for a secure and peaceful future for Israel are right to describe this law as “counter to Israel’s Declaration of Independence” and a law which “turns minorities in Israel into second class citizens”.
Many local residents will be aware that National Express have announced changes to some bus routes in and around South Birmingham. These changes will come into force from Sunday 22nd July and include small changes, such as timetable amendments, as well as some larger route changes.
National Express believe these changes will help to provide faster, more reliable, and more punctual journeys. However, many residents will undoubtedly be concerned about the impact that some of the changes will have on their local bus routes and ability to get around.
You can visit the National Express West Midlands website using the link below to see route-by-route information about what’s happening in the coming weeks. I have also been told by National Express that all of their buses operating in the local area will have leaflets which include details of the service changes, and that information will be provided on bus stops that are affected by the service changes. It is important that those without internet access are made of aware too of these changes so please share news of the service changes with relatives, friends and neighbours who are unable to access the changes online.
Local residents should also continue to submit their comments about the service changes. You can submit any comments, complaints and questions by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or Customer Relations National Express West Midlands, 51 Bordesley Green, Birmingham, B9 4BZ. Likewise you can contact their Customer Care team on 0121 254 7272. I will similarly be in regular contact with National Express to share the concerns and comments of constituents.
I know how important these bus routes are to local residents and, along with local Labour Councillors, I will be stressing to National Express the importance of reviewing the changes to see where things are not working as well as they should be.
Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter! If you think a friend or family member may be interested in receiving my regular updates they can sign up here.
Space prevents the newsletter covering all of what I have been doing over the past month. However, hopefully it provides a flavour of some of the local issues I have taken up as well as my actions in Parliament. You’ll find updates on unauthorised encampments, Brexit and other issues. As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on these or any other issues.
Air pollution is a killer. Research suggests that in Birmingham alone, poor air quality accelerates the deaths of 900 people a year. Children, the elderly and people with cardiovascular, breathing and lung conditions are particularly vulnerable.
Birmingham is not alone in this. Across the country, it is estimated 40,000 people die prematurely as a result of poor air quality, with the problem being particularly severe in congested urban areas. Britain is also breaching EU laws on air quality and could face hefty fines unless we address the problem.
In this week’s votes in the House of Commons on amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, all MPs, irrespective of Party, had a duty to cast our votes in a way that we genuinely believe is in the interests of the country. These votes were not about whether or not Brexit takes place. The decision to take the UK out of the European Union was made at the referendum and by triggering Article 50 Parliament has set that process in motion.
This week’s votes were rather about the kind of Brexit the UK Government should be trying to negotiate. Two of the key issues under debate were whether, after Brexit, the UK should remain in a customs union with the EU, and whether we should remain able to participate in the Single Market. As a member of the EU, Britain is currently both in a customs union with the EU and part of the EU’s Single Market. However, neither rely on EU membership. Norway, for example, is neither in the EU nor in a customs union with it. As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) however, it participates in the Single Market.