THURSDAY 17 JULY 2014
1. Extracts from Business Questions:
– Barry Sheerman [addressing William Hague in his new capacity as 1st Secretary of State and Leader of the House]: “The world is almost in meltdown in so many places—the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza and the Israeli conflict with Gaza—and he has left the deck at a crucial time…… May we have an early debate on the situation in Gaza? There is time next Monday or Tuesday. The world is distressed indeed at the recent deaths, so may we have a debate soon?”
– William Hague: “I made a statement, as Foreign Secretary, about Gaza on Monday. I know that my successor will want to keep the House well informed. We have Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions next Tuesday, so there will be an opportunity to discuss this next week.”
– John Cryer: “Could we have a statement on Gaza on Tuesday, after Foreign Office questions? I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman made a statement on Monday in his previous role, but the situation is not just dreadful, particularly given the increasing number of deaths of children, but is changing very rapidly, so could we have a statement on Tuesday?”
– WH: “My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will assess the case for a statement in addition to answering questions on Tuesday. I do not want to commit him to that, but it has been our habit over the past four years to have regular statements on developing crises. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is right that the situation continues to develop. There have been further tragic deaths in Gaza. I am pleased that there is a humanitarian ceasefire in force for a short time today, but of course what we really need is an agreed and sustainable ceasefire and a restoration of the ceasefire of November 2012.”
Commons Oral Answers
2. General Debate on MENA, tabled by Alistair Burt lasting three hours. Most of the speeches were about Palestine/Israel, Gaza in particular. Speeches and interventions were made by: Alistair Burt, John Howell, Nadhim Zahawi, Julian Lewis, Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon, Bob Stewart, Richard Burden, Robert Jenrick, Nigel Dodds, Jim Shannon, Andrew Percy, Matthew Offord, Jonathan Djanogly, Andy Slaughter, Richard Graham, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Durkan, Mark Lazarowicz, Khalid Mahmood, Grahame M Morris, Ian Lucas Replying:
Westminster Hall Debates
3. Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Operation of the UK’s Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime:
1 April 2014 to 30 June 2014 – including:
PALESTINIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD (PIJ)
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE — GENERAL COMMAND (PFLP-GC)
POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (PFLP)
4. Statement by the FCO: David Lidington will attend Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 22 July.
Ministers will discuss recent developments in the MEPP. “The UK will want to ensure the EU sends a clear message expressing its concern at the recent escalation in violence in Gaza and Israel, and urging all sides to take steps to deescalate the situation and avoid any further civilian injuries and the loss of innocent life. Recent events reinforce the need to take steps towards a lasting peace.”
Nos 3-4 Commons Written Statements
5. Khalid Mahmood: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to decrease violence between Israel and Palestine?
6. Margaret Ritchie: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the implications for his policy of the report by the UN OCHA on the number of casualties among young people and other civilians during the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza?
7. Margaret Ritchie: What reports has Foreign Secretary received of the number of Palestinian civilian casualties during the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza?
Commons Written Answers
8. Question tabled by Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the consequences of Israel’s recent campaign in Gaza?
– Bns Warsi: “We call on all sides to de-escalate to avoid further civilian casualties. “The Israeli people have the right to live without constant fear for their security and Gazans have the right to live with dignity and peace. We are concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.” [extract]
– Bns Tonge: “More than 200 people have been killed in Gaza, nearly half of them women and children; four children have been killed on a beach, nowhere near rocket launchers; nearly 1,400 people have been seriously injured and the same sort of number of homes have been totally destroyed, together with water supplies, power supplies and sewage installations? The chief executive of UNICEF predicts that a generation of young people [She is interrupted by peers shouting “Too long!”] You do not want to hear it: you are going to—young people traumatised and sick and hell-bent on revenge. Does the Minister agree that we should help Israel to accept the Hamas offer of a ceasefire on condition that both Israel and Egypt open the crossings and the borders are supervised by the United Nations? Does she also agree that by allowing Israel to constantly break international law and act with impunity, we—all of us in this House, present and absent—are implicit in the destruction and suffering of the people of Gaza?” [extract]
– Bns Warsi: We have been asking for a de-escalation. We hope that the humanitarian ceasefire negotiated by the UN will form the basis of further discussions later today.
– Lord Bach: “Many noble Lords will have seen the video recording of the unspeakable deaths of the four innocent Palestinian boys playing on a beach. They will also have seen the human misery at the funeral of a 37 year-old Israeli who was, equally unspeakably, killed by a Hamas rocket. Does the Minister agree that the world will find it difficult to understand how a five-hour ceasefire can be agreed, but not a longer and stronger ceasefire that stops this horror?”
– Bns Warsi: “Unfortunately that is the complexity of the Middle East peace process, and of the situation that has existed there for many, many decades…. The deaths on both sides are of course tragic events. It is for that reason that this matter has to be de-escalated, and we have to get back to the negotiating table.” [extract]
– Lord Deben: “There are many who entirely support Israel’s right to continue as an independent nation and to defend its borders, but at the same time believe that there is no hope for peace as long as Israel continues its illegal settlement policy? Does my noble friend accept that Israel is the only so-called liberal democracy that believes that colonisation should be part of its programme?” [extract]
– Bns Warsi: “Regarding the ceasefire, I can say that last night delegations from both Israel and Hamas arrived in Cairo for discussions on the Egyptian initiative which is currently on the table. I understand that President Abbas is in Cairo and is due to meet General Sisi. It may well be that these latest tragic deaths have finally made people stop and think.” [extract]
– Bns Blackstone: “Would the Minister agree that the Israeli Government’s long-standing oppression of the people of Gaza, where 50% of the population are children, can only serve to undermine the long-term security of Israel and its people?” [extract]
– Bns Warsi: Yes. “As long as the underlying issues are not resolved, then neither people in neither country can be safe.”
– Lord Dykes: “Will HMG work really hard from now on to ensure that the United States stops automatically vetoing UN Security Council resolutions which bring peace in the Middle East? This allows Israel to disobey international law, as was also said by the noble Lord, Lord Deben. This is absolutely essential, because there have been nearly 40 vetoes since 1968, allowing Israel just to flout international law. I speak as a long-standing admirer of the country of Israel, but not of the present Government’s policies.” [extract]
– Bns Warsi: We felt that progress was being made. Secretary Kerry took a huge initiative in the latest talks. Of course the US wants what we want, which is for this matter to be resolved and for the peace process to be effected.”
Hansard video @ 24:53 http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15715 duration 5.5 mins
Lords Oral Answers
WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 2014
1. Barry Sheerman [speaking in “National Citizen Service” debate tabled by himself]: The world does not want a reapeat of the horror of the two World Wars. ” We perhaps take it a bit for granted that there has not been a conflagration of that size since, although there have been, and still are, conflagrations, wars, and dreadful civil unrest and unhappiness across the world; I am thinking this morning about Gaza, Israel, Syria and so on.”
2. Sarah Teather [speaking in “Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme” debate tabled by herself]: Asks why HMG has made so little progress giving asylum to Syrian refugees; as Chair of the APPG on Refugees she visited Zaatari camp last November and saw what a huge burden Jordan is having to bear; mentions that Jordan has two million registered Palestinian refugees and points out that “last year Syrians were the No. 1 nationality arriving [in Europe] by sea, with one in four arrivals being Syrian or Palestinians from Syria.”
Nos 1-2 Westminster Hall Debates
3. Question tabled by Lord Hylton: What is HMG’s response to the formation of a Palestinian government of unity with the prospect of elections in 2014?
– Baroness Warsi: The current crisis in Gaza decreases the possibility for elections in the near future.
– Lord Hylton: Are there not major incentives and penalties that Europe could apply?
– Bns Warsi: When the Kerry talks began, the EU put forward an unprecedented package in the event of an agreement.
– Lord Anderson: Israel still lacks “a negotiating partner which can deliver”; there are deep divisions within the Fatah and Hamas.
– Bns Warsi: “When we find a partner that agrees to the quartet principles, we should see it as a genuine partner for peace.” [extract]
– Lord Alderdice: Elections should be respected; whatever governments emerge should continue to be part of a negotiating process.
– Bns Warsi: The current situation means that all minds are now focused on a ceasefire but we hope that elections will follow thereafter.
– Lord Turnberg: It is “extremely difficult for Israel to continue to exchange security intelligence with a Government who get their main support, or part of it, from an organisation that is committed to Israel’s destruction, let alone to engage in meaningful negotiations with them.”
– Bns Warsi: There are no members of Hamas in the technocratic Government. We welcomed Egypt’s attempt to secure a ceasefire.
– Bns Hussein-Ece: “Can my noble friend say whether media reports that Hamas was not even consulted on the so-called peace deal that Egypt announced are true, and that members of the Knesset themselves learnt about it from the media?”
– Bns Warsi: Ceasefires must be agreed to by both sides. “There has been some reporting about the basis of that ceasefire.” [extract]
– Bns Uddin: “I take this opportunity to condemn the merciless attacks on innocent women and children in Gaza. While I accept the premise of this Question and its importance, does the Minister accept that the real issue of concern for the international community should be the illegal occupation and the continuation of illegal settlements?”
– Bns Warsi: “There is no doubt that unless the underlying causes are resolved, this dispute will continue and we will see eruptions of the violence that we saw in 2008 and 2012, and which we see again in 2014.” [extract]
– Lord Lexden: Will there be international observers at the Palestinian elections?
– Bns Warsi: I am not sure.
– Bns Morgan of Ely: Any Palestinian Government should take better account of the needs of the youth of the territory. “One-third of the youth are unemployed and 48% of Gaza youth have suggested that they would support an uprising against Hamas and believe that the new generation of leaders would do a better job.”
– Bns Warsi: Absolutely right. “However, the tragedy of the current situation is that, unfortunately, if you look at what is happening on the ground, because of this current crisis Hamas is becoming more popular.”
Hansard video @ 17:40 http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15714 duration 8 mins
Lords Oral Answers
TUESDAY 15 JULY 2014
1. Andrew Rosindell: What condolences has the UK offered to Israel following the discovery of the bodies of the three murdered teenagers, Naftali Freikel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrah?
Commons Written Answers
2. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the destruction of homes in the West Bank belonging to people who have no connection with the recent kidnappings of Israeli students?
Lords Written Answers
MONDAY 14 JULY 2014
1. Diane Abbott [in Questions to the Secretary of State for Defence]: “The Secretary of State will be aware of the widespread public concern about the current conflagration in Gaza, and the women and children either dying or threatened with death. I am aware that there is a statement this afternoon, but none the less my constituents will expect me to be telling the Secretary of State that they hope that every arm of Government will be bending every sinew to work towards a ceasefire.”
2. Foreign Secretary’s Statement on Gaza:
– William Hague: “The House is aware that despite intense efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry, talks between Israelis and the Palestinians broke down at the end of April and are currently paused. Since then, there have been several horrific incidents, including the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the burning alive of a Palestinian teenager. We utterly condemn these barbaric crimes. There can never be any justification for the deliberate murder of innocent civilians. These rising tensions have been followed by sustained barrages of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Between 14 June and 7 July, 270 rockets were fired by militants into Israel, to which Israel responded with air strikes. Rockets are fired indiscriminately against the civilian population, including against major Israeli cities. Israel then launched Operation Protective Edge on 7 July. Israeli defence forces have struck over 1,470 targets in Gaza, and over 970 more rockets have been fired towards Israel. Two hundred and forty Israelis have been injured. In Gaza, as of today, at least 173 Palestinians have been killed and 1,230 injured. The UN estimates that 80% of those killed have been civilians, of whom a third are children….. The UK has three objectives: to secure a ceasefire, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to keep alive the prospects for peace negotiations which are the only hope of breaking this cycle of violence and devastation once and for all…. In all these areas, the United Kingdom will play its role, working closely with US and European colleagues, encouraging both sides back to dialogue, supporting the Palestinian Authority, keeping pressure on Hamas and other extremists, and alleviating the humanitarian consequences of conflict. There can be no substitute, though, for leadership and political will from the parties concerned. The world looks on in horror once again as Israel suffers from rocket attacks and Palestinian civilians die. Only a real peace, with a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, can end this cycle of violence. And it is only the parties themselves, with our support, who can make that peace.” [condensed text]
– Douglas Alexander for the Opposition: “The Foreign Secretary has rightly condemned the horrific kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the burning alive of a teenage Palestinian, but although these repellent crimes seem to be the proximate cause of the latest spiral of violence, does he accept that the underlying cause of this latest crisis is the failure over decades to achieve a two-state solution for two peoples? The spiral of violence of recent days is grimly familiar to anyone who remembers Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 and Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012. The same bloodstained pattern is repeating itself. In the first operation, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire. In the second operation, the Egyptians brokered one. Both times, it was clear that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could not be solved through force of arms alone. Does the Foreign Secretary therefore recognise that there can be no military solution to this conflict? Does he further accept that the scale of the suffering in Gaza, compounding the effects of the continuing blockade, serves to fuel hatred and, indeed, to embolden Israel’s enemies? Does the Foreign Secretary agree that if the operating logic of Hamas is terror and the operating logic of Israel is deterrence, then pleas by the international community for restraint alone will be insufficient? Today, the risk of an all-out escalation in the conflict and the threat of a full ground invasion are still palpable—and preventable, if Hamas stops firing rockets. As the Opposition, we are clear not only on the need for an immediate ceasefire, but that a full-scale ground invasion would be a disaster for the peoples of both Gaza and Israel, and a strategic error for Israel. Does the Foreign Secretary agree, and will he now make that position clear to the Israeli Government in the crucial hours and days ahead? The Foreign Secretary spoke of the statements made by the UN Security Council on Saturday calling for a ceasefire, which I of course welcome. Alongside the Arab League at its meeting today, the UN must be forthright in its role of seeking to bring the recent violence to an end. Will he therefore support calls for the UN Secretary-General to travel to the region to act as a mediator between the two sides? …. Hamas, weakened today by Sisi’s rise in Egypt and differences with Iran over Syria, can avert the risk of an imminent ground invasion by stopping the rocket attacks, but Israel needs a strategy for building peace, not just tactics for winning the next round of war.” [condensed extract]
Questions were put by:
Sir Nicholas Soames, Louise Ellman, Sir Menzies Campbell, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Cheryl Gillan, Jack Straw, Alistair Burt, Glenda Jackson, Sir Richard Ottaway, Angus Robertson, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Ben Bradshaw, Martin Horwood, Richard Burden, Robert Halfon, Rushanara Ali, Andrew Selous, Fiona O’Donnell, Matthew Offord, Jeremy Corbyn, Julian Brazier, Lyn Brown, Crispin Blunt, Mike Gapes, Sir Edward Leigh, Andy Slaughter, Steve Baker, Seema Malhotra, Andrew Stephenson, Khalid Mahmood, Fiona Mactaggart, Henry Smith, Karen Buck, Philip Hollobone, Shabana Mahmood, Cathy Jamieson, Sir Bob Russell, Angela Smith, Michael Fabricant, Barry Gardiner and Debbie Abrahams, Kevin Brennan, Liam Byrne, Andrew Love, Jonathan Ashworth, Andrew Gwynne, Nia Griffith.
William Hague’s responses reflect no change in the government’s policy of rejecting calls for sanctions or boycotts.
Hansard video @ 1:01:15 http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15703
Nos 1-2 Commons Oral Answers
3. Iain McKenzie: When did Foreign Secretary last meet his Israeli counterpart to discuss the political situation in Israel and Palestine?
4. Khalid Mahmood: Does Foreign Secretary plan to visit the ME to assist in de-escalating the conflict between Israel and Palestine?
5. Peter Bone: What recent reports has Foreign Secretary received on the PA’s policy of payment of salaries to the families of convicted terrorists; what information does FCO hold on their basis and scale; and will he make a statement.
6. Andrew Smith: Pursuant to an earlier answer on infrastructure projects in the Jordan Valley, what positive benefits for Palestinians living in Area C have resulted so far from DfID’s engagement with Israel?
7. Peter Bone: Will DfID Secretary review her policy of paying money to the PA which may be used to pay salaries to families of convicted terrorists?
8. Peter Bone: How much funding did DfID give to the PA in each of the last 10 years which was used (a) directly and (b) indirectly to pay salaries to the families of convicted terrorists?
9. Peter Bone: How much funding did DfID provide (a) directly and (b) indirectly to the PA in each of the last 10 years?
Nos 3-9 Commons Written Answers
10. Baroness Tonge [in “UK National Plan on Women, Peace and Security” debate]: “Will the Minister tell us what the Government propose to do about the incalculable suffering of the women of Gaza as it goes on now? They have no shelter to take their children to. They have very little food and no clean water, and night after night they have to try to protect their children from the obscene war that is being waged on them.”
- Foreign Secretary’s Statement on Gaza repeated in the House of Lords by Baroness Warsi:
– Lord Bach for the Opposition broadly follows the Douglas Alexander’s statement in the Commons, stressing: “The further isolation of the Palestinian Authority in the face of military action weakens its own domestic legitimacy. Surely that ultimately makes negotiations harder and peace more difficult to achieve. Today, the risk of all-out escalation in the conflict and the threat of a ground offensive action are very real indeed. However, of course—and this should constantly be said—they are preventable if Hamas stops firing rockets at Israel. As Her Majesty’s Opposition, we are clear not only on the need for an immediate ceasefire but that a full-scale ground invasion would be both a disaster for the people of Gaza and a strategic error for Israel. It is vital that our Government, along with allies, now make that position clear to the Israeli Government in the crucial hours and days ahead. I am sure that the Minister agrees with that.”
– Questions were put by Baroness Morris of Bolton, Lord Pannick, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, Lord Ahmed, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, Lord Leigh of Hurley, Lord Mitchell, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill, Lord Elystan-Morgan, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.
Hansard video @ 4:15:31 http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15712 Duration 40 mins
12. Lord Cope [in “Republic of Sudan: Human Rights” debate]: [extract] “After more than a decade of violence, the whole area seems to be getting stuck in a permanent state of violence, with millions of permanent refugees. It is getting like Palestine…. where UNRWA does its best for millions of refugees from half a century ago but who are still refugees, where UN resolutions are flouted with impunity and where violence is seen as the only way forward.”
Nos 10-12 Lords Oral Answers
13. Baroness Tonge:What discussions have HMG had with Israel concerning its intended policy to force-feed Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike?
14. Lord Turnberg: What discussions have HMG had with the Palestinian unity government following the discovery of the three murdered Israeli teenagers?
Nos 12-14 Lords Written Answers