Guernsey Press

States may be reluctant to comment on global events

Guernsey’s senior committee may make fewer statements on international matters in future, following questions in the Assembly yesterday about its stance on the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

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A pro-Palestine march in London. Policy & Resources president Deputy Lyndon Trott indicated to the States yesterday that the committee he heads is less likely to comment on matters where it could contradict the UK’s position. (Picture from PA Images)

On 10 October – three days after a terrorist attack by Hamas which killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis – then Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache expressed Guernsey’s ‘unequivocal support’ for Israel.

Since then, Israel’s military response has been estimated to have killed 29,000 Palestinians, which has led to calls for various international governments to apply more diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire.

Yesterday, current P&R president Deputy Lyndon Trott was asked by Deputy Gavin St Pier to affirm that Israel was obliged to follow international law in relation to its response to the terrorist attack and that both sides should seek an immediate ceasefire.

Deputy Trott said the original statement by his predecessor was specifically ‘a statement of solidarity against acts of terrorism’ and that it was not appropriate for Guernsey’s government or parliament to make statements on international matters that contradicted the UK’s position.

Deputy Aidan Matthews asked whether the use of the word ‘unequivocal’ had been a mistake and invited Deputy Trott to consider whether P&R would be prepared to give an updated statement.

This prompted Deputy Peter Roffey to urge caution.

‘We should probably not slip into what we’ve done a couple of times recently, which is make statements [on Israel and Ukraine] – both of which I totally agreed with – because once you start establishing that precedent, people don’t understand when you say you can’t make statements in relation to international matters in other areas,’ he said.

Deputy Trott described that as ‘a reasonable comment’ and reiterated that ‘Guernsey’s formal international relations and defence matters are a matter for the UK government’, with rare exceptions, such as where responsibility had been formally entrusted to Guernsey for the signing of tax information exchange agreements.

‘We should remain ever conscious of that in comments that we make in this Assembly,’ he said.