NJA calls on Humza Yousaf MSP to explain Hamas meeting

The NJA is deeply troubled to report that Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Health Secretary, met with Mohammad Sawalha, a former senior Hamas commander, in 2008. The meeting was attended by Scottish Government officials and cabinet ministers, including Linda Fabiani, the then Scottish culture and external affairs secretary.

Despite the history of Sawalha, who was named by BBC Panorama in 2006 as having “masterminded much of Hamas’ political and military strategy,” the meeting with Yousaf went ahead. Sawalha was Hamas’ West Bank military chief at the time of the meeting. Hamas was proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the US, and the UK did not follow suit until 2021.

In light of these revelations, we call on Yousaf to explain why he believed it was appropriate to meet with supporters of Hamas, a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of countless innocent Israeli civilians. The decision to meet with Sawalha is even more concerning given Yousaf’s aspirations to replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister.

The NJA echoes the concerns of the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, who said that, “Yousaf must address the circumstances in which he judged it appropriate to have close contact with Hamas supporters. He has to face these questions head-on were he to become First Minister.”

It is imperative that elected officials, especially those who hold ministerial positions, understand the potential consequences of their actions and associations. The NJA calls on Mr. Yousaf to address these concerns and take the appropriate steps to ensure that his actions in the past do not undermine his ability to serve the people of Scotland, that going forward, he will not establish any relationships with proscribed organisations under the Terrorism Act 2000, nor forge any relationships that may endanger his Jewish constituents or harm the robust UK-Israel bilateral relationship.

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