AN SNP MSP has been condemned after calling the 1948 exodus of 750,000 Palestinians, or Nakba, a "self-inflicted tragedy".

Richard Lyle, deputy convener of the cross-party Building Bridges With Israel group at Holyrood, made the controversial claim at Holyrood.

The Morning Star revealed the Uddingston & Bellshill MSP had tried to attach the phrase to a motion condemning the Nakba tabled by fellow SNP MSP Sandra White. 

The SNP’s Friends of Palestine group said it had written to SNP HQ asking “what disciplinary action can be taken against Mr Lyle for bringing the Party into disrepute”.

The Scottish Greens said blaming victims of ethnic cleansing was “vile”, while Labour urged Mr Lyle to apologise for his “outrageous” remark.

In 2018, Mr Lyle went on a £2,200 visit to Israel and the occupied territories paid for by the Israeli government.

He claimed his amendment was "designed to provoke discussion".

Nakba, which means catastrophe, is a name used to refer to the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. 

The event is at the root of the continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Earlier this month, Ms White, the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, lodged a parliamentary motion to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba on May 15.

It said the “mass eviction of over 750,000 people from historic Palestine land, which included the destruction of over 500 towns and villages... led to generations of pain for the Palestinian people, who continue to live under a state of occupation”.

It urged a resolution to “the Palestinian humanitarian crisis and occupation”, condemned “any action by the Israeli government to annexe areas of occupied Palestinian land”, and said the international community “is duty bound to protect Palestinians under occupation”.

It was supported by 13 other MSPs from the SN, Greens and Labour.

However last week, Mr Lyle tabled an amendment to the motion which would have add a substantial amount of text at the end, including a 1976 quote from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about Arab armies abandoning Palestinians in the 1948 war. 

Mr Lyle then said a fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arabs “who chose not to flee in 1948, and who enjoy their democratic rights in Israel and contribute meaningfully to Israel society at all levels, including membership of the Knesset, with several Arabs serving as high ranking members of the Israel police and army”.

He ended: “The conclusion can only be that the Naqba, the Arabic word for tragedy, resulting in the 1948 Palestine refugee crisis was sadly a self-inflicted tragedy, which must, after all these years, be finally resolved by peaceful means and discussions between the parties involved."

The amendment has so far been supported by only one other MSP, the Glasgow Tory Adam Tomkins, a fellow member of Mr Lyle’s Building Bridges with Israel Group.

According to his register of interests, Mr Lyle took part in a visit with the group to Israel and the Palestinian Territories from August 12 to 17 in 2018.

“The costs of my visit were met by the Embassy of Israel in the United Kingdom… and in respect of my travel, accommodation and hospitality are estimated to be of the value of £2,200,” he declared.

Mr Lyle, 69, recently announced he would stand down at the 2021 election.

Nadia El-Nakla, convenor of SNP Friends of Palestine, said Mr Lyle’s remarks were “not just a revision of history but also an insult to every Palestinian worldwide”.

In a statement on the SNOP Friends of Palestine Facebook page, she wrote: “It is disgraceful to suggest the Nakba and subsequent occupation which has led to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children is somehow self-inflicted.

“My Great Grandfather was not forced from his land due to Arab states or the Palestinians themselves. My brother, currently residing in Gaza, is not living under siege due to the Palestinians.

“The abhorrent disrespect towards the Palestinian people is racist and hate-filled.

“Richard Lyle should apologise to the Party, to Scotland and to all the people of Palestine. “We ask the Presiding Officer to find the amendment in breach of the code of conduct.”

Glasgow Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “The Nakba is the root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict. 

“It is outrageous for any MSP who claims to be a progressive to state in a motion Palestinians have inflicted this on themselves.

“I urge Mr Lyle to come and talk to Palestinians and hear the truth of the matter. He owes them an apology.”

Green MSP Ross Greer, co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Palestine, said: “I am disgusted, but not surprised, Mr Lyle has attempted to amend a parliamentary motion marking the Nakba to label it a ‘self-inflicted tragedy’.

“Blaming the victims of ethnic cleansing for the crimes committed against them is vile.”

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “While the SNP in government works on streamlining hate crime legislation, they must act to ensure anti-Palestinian racism is not normalised but dealt with firmly within their own party and wider Scottish society.

“This is not a debate about history; today Israeli forces are attacking Palestinians.

“Richard Lyle is an active defender of this project. 

“It is time the SNP took action against the foul racism that drives such advocacy.”

In a statement issued via the SNP, Mr Lyle said: “As deputy convener of the cross-party Building Bridges With Israel group at Holyrood, I fully support a two state solution.

“On my recent trip to Israel I was free to speak with whoever I wished and the Israelis and Palestinians I talked to told me they wanted peace.

“My amendment was designed to provoke discussion. If we in Scotland can’t have a constructive dialogue and examine the arguments from both sides, what chance have the warring sides after 72 years of conflict.

“I implore the Palestinian and Jewish peoples to sit down and negotiate a two state solution and end the bloodshed.”