I AM writing in support of the views expressed by William Loneskie (Letters, March 18).

The slaughter of innocent Palestinians continues, all in the name of "self-defence". Some 30,000 have been killed; thousands more left maimed and hundreds of children orphaned. Their homes have been flattened; their infrastructure destroyed and the helpless people are herded like cattle from one so-called "safe area" to another. Their plight is made worse by the shocking refusal of Israel to allow the supply of adequate food, water and medical supplies to reach them. Surely these are crimes against humanity?

It is quite clear that appeals from world leaders for restraint are being ignored by Israel. It is delusional to think that Israel would voluntarily call a halt to the slaughter. It is abundantly clear that Israel is totally opposed to the two-state solution. There will be no home for the wretched Palestinians if Benjamin Netanyahu has anything to do with it.

This has gone way beyond a campaign of self-defence. The war did not start last October. For decades Israel has aggressively expanded its territory, ignoring UN resolutions in the process. Over 150 illegal settlements have already been built on land taken by force from the Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu’s mask has slipped by now agreeing to the construction of hundreds more houses on illegally-occupied Palestinian territory. These settlements tend to be inhabited by fundamentalist religious zealots who believe that their God approves of their actions. Palestinians who resist the seizure of their land run the risk of being shot.

So if appeals for restraint are being ignored then what is to be done? The cases against Israel being investigated by international courts could take months to reach their decisions. Mr Loneskie is right in arguing that the only action that could be effective and which might convince decent Israelis that their country is on the road to perdition, is to apply sanctions as were applied effectively to apartheid South Africa and are in force against Putin’s Russia.

Israel should be banned from participating in international sport; invitations to Israeli artists to perform in cultural festivals should be withdrawn; Israeli goods and services should be boycotted and the leaders of the military campaign should be sanctioned and charged by the ICC. When eventually a peace conference is held, then there should be two preconditions imposed on Israel. The Palestinian state should be created with its borders guaranteed by international law, as were the borders of newly-formed Belgium in 1839. The Palestinian state should be able to run its own affairs without Israeli interference and critically, it should be allowed to form its own defence force. I would also hope that consideration would be given to the payment of reparations by Israel for their actions which have left Gaza a concrete ruin.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.

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Flynn puts Starmer to shame

ROBERT Scott (Letters, March 18) should be careful about calling for a Holyrood election as despite the constant barrage from opponents claiming everything in Scotland is useless, the latest Redfield & Wilton poll, whose methodology is the least favourable towards the SNP, puts the SNP four percentage points ahead of Labour for the next Holyrood elections.

Labour remained silent when Alister Jack sabotaged the Deposit Return Scheme which was successfully introduced in Ireland in February and last weekend saw one million drinks containers returned rather than littering the streets. But then Ireland’s economy has thrived as part of the EU while Labour even remains opposed to freedom of movement that has damaged recruitment in the NHS and in the agriculture and hospitality sectors in Scotland, and will prevent the UK growth Labour hopes for.

Following Sir Keir Starmer’s pressure on the Speaker to save his skin and sabotage the SNP’s motion on Gaza, last week Labour MPs were whipped to abstain on the Tory Budget, that they basically agreed with, while it was left to the SNP and others to oppose it.

The more Scottish voters learn about Keir Starmer and his numerous U-turns, the less likely they will vote for him, while the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has been very impressive and cuts straight to the chase without notes at PMQs. After the Speaker refused to let Diane Abbot speak on Tory racism, Stephen Flynn immediately went to speak to her while the spineless Keir Starmer watched on, then decided he better do likewise but, by all accounts, this didn’t go well when she asked to be given back the Labour Whip.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

SNP anti-Tory stance vicious and wrong

WHO can blame Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, from backing away publicly from his leader's recent and at at times vicious anti-Tory rants ("SNP defend 'clear and straightforward' call to make Scotland Tory Free", heraldscotland, March 18)?

Mr Wishart holds his traditionally Tory seat by a handful of votes. Even without the succession of political disasters directly attributed to the SNP and the precarious place occupied by the party according to every poll, any chance Mr Wishart has of holding the seat is diminished to the point of zero by every utterance the FM makes. There are three-quarters of a million Tory voters in Scotland. ''Eradicating'' or ''coming for'' them will not warm the hearts of any who have in the past changed tack and backed the nationalists.

Much the opposite is surely the case. This vicious anti-Tory approach is another SNP policy to add to the existing mountain where the consequences of actions have not been thought through.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

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Shame on the Holyrood puritans

HELEN McArdle ("Groups unite over demand for MUP hike to 65p", The Herald, March 18) writes that dozens of charities, faith groups and medical organisations have signed a letter urging a 30% hike in the minimum unit price of alcohol when Holyrood debates this at the end of April.

Given that none of the parties, not even the so-called Liberal Democrats, had the backbone to even abstain when MUP was introduced in 2018, the result is a foregone conclusion. Pity there were no Libertarians to oppose the measure.

Why don't the Holyrood puritans just go the whole hog and call for prohibition? The Al Capones would relish the prospect; it would add to their drugs income.

Of course the MUP hike won't bother our overpaid MSPs as they swig their pinot grigio with the pinkie oot (de rigueur in Marchmont).

One thing's for sure: booze-cruises to Carlisle and Berwick will multiply, to the further detriment of Scottish retailers. Some entrepreneur should set up "Swallyland" stores smack behind the Border; they'd make a mint.

George Morton, Rosyth.

The Herald: SNP Westminster leader Stephen FlynnSNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn (Image: PA)

The facts about PFI

HAVING read the letters from Peter A Russell and Alasdair Galloway regarding PFI projects (Letters, March 13 & 15) might I be permitted to voice my own observations having worked on a number of such projects?

EU rules required competitive tendering for these projects with preferably five bidders but with a minimum of three. On large PFI projects the costs of following this process are horrendous to the point that simply getting three bidders is the main challenge. Even then consortia may still pull out halfway through the process, especially if their chances of winning become questionable.

To give an example, I worked on a £1billion PFI project in London where the health board ended up with only two bidders because of the risks involved. We lost out. However we estimated that our consortia had spent an estimated £20 million on their bid. Borrow that sum from a bank for the standard 25-year period of a PFI contract and at a 4.2% annual interest (typical at the time) and it will generate a repayment to the bank of £57m.

If there had been three bidders selected they would therefore be spending as much as £171m simply to get to the competition starting line. For losing bidders recovery of this money is possible from the health board but it is optional rather than mandatory. However in 40 years I have never seen any such payment made to the private sector for the work that the health board has commissioned from them as part of the procurement process. No surprise there. The outlay cost is left 100% with the private sector.

Not only that, but if you lose the bid then you have to explain that loss to your shareholders. Lose two bids and you could be headed for insolvency along with those in your supply chain, many of whom are obliged to work at break-even or less to keep bid costs down.

However in all the analyses that I have read regarding the efficacy of PFI projects these sums are mysteriously excluded. The start point of any financial comparison is generally with the winning bidder being announced. It then compares the costs over 25 years from that point as compared to a publicly-funded project. So from the outset it’s neither a fair nor accurate assessment of the true costs of delivering the project.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.