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The House of Commons returns from Easter recess on Monday 28 April

The House of Lords on Tuesday 6 May


1. Israel and OPTs (Countries of Concern) section in FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy (2013) Report

leading to:


and the Latest Update 31 March 2014:


Commons Written Statements


1. Questions to DfID Secretary:

– Sir Peter Luff: How effective is DfID support for PA?

– Alan Duncan: Our support has enabled PA to develop institutions; international community deems it technically ready for statehood.

– Sir Peter Luff: Having just returned from a Select Committee visit to OPTs, my question is: wouldn’t DfID support for the private sector be much more effective if Israel lifted many of its restrictions, which can have nothing to do with its essential security, on Palestinian business people’s freedom to develop their banking sector, water supply, and even 3G telephone networks?

– AD: “Israeli restrictions do tremendous damage to the economy and to the living standards of ordinary Palestinians. The simple truth is that they are not allowed to develop their banking or information and communications technology sectors, or to build even their basic infrastructure. Were these restrictions to be lifted, not only would DFID’s work to support the private sector be much more effective, but within a relatively short space of time the Palestinians would probably not need our aid at all.” [extract]

– Richard Burden: According to the World Bank, Area C, particularly the Jordan valley, is vital to the future economic viability of a Palestinian state. Illegal Israeli planning restrictions are stopping infrastructure projects, which DfID is looking to fund, from being built there. How long will HMG allow Israel to have a veto over the West Bank’s economic development?

– AD: “I fully understand what the hon. Gentleman says. I think the Select Committee saw a direct example of the destruction of olive groves when it was there. It is essential that area C is able, through planning arrangements, to develop its economy; otherwise there can be no sensible or useful economic future in the Palestinian territories.”

– Sir Malcolm Bruce: Without access to Area C there is no future for a 2-s-s or for an economically viable Palestine. “The PA pleaded with us to put all possible pressure on Israel to allow access. We met someone from a company who is saying that the cost of land in areas A and B is prohibitive and that without access to area C he cannot develop his business.”

– AD: “I fully concur with my right hon. Friend. I hope that a full understanding of this can be included in the peace talks that we hope are continuing towards a productive and useful conclusion.”

– Mark Lazarowicz: What recent representations have HMG made to Israel about continued forcible removal of populations and property demolition in the OTs? Did Foreign Secretary raise this issue when he met the Israeli Minister for International Relations yesterday?

– AD: I was also there and we raise such matters regularly. “It is essential that some kind of normal activity can be permitted in the OPTs, otherwise… there will not be a two-state solution and there is a danger of permanent conflict and tension.”

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Commons Oral Answers

NB: See also International Development Committee 8.4.14

2. Rob Wilson: What progress has DfID made on its programmes in Palestine?

Written Answers

3. Lord Turnberg: What measures are in place to ensure that UK humanitarian aid to Palestine is not diverted to sponsor terrorist activities?

Lords Written Answers



1. Questions to the Foreign Secretary:

– Peter Bone: There is a lack of religious freedom in the ME apart from in Israel, where the Christian community has increased by 1,000% since Israel came into being. [Hugh Robertson makes no mention of Israel in his reply.]

– Bob Blackman: “Over the past 50 years the Jewish population in Arab countries has shrunk by 836,000 people, who are all refugees. At the same time there are some 836,000 Palestinian refugees. What is my right hon. Friend’s reaction to the fact that more than $2 billion has been spent supporting the Palestinian refugees, but zero on Israeli refugees?”
– Hugh Robertson: Our allocations in this area are driven by need and we have these questions at a time when the millionth Syrian refugee has arrived in Beirut.

– Ann McKechin: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of progress in the peace negotiations?
– William Hague: I urge both parties to show the bold leadership needed to resolve this conflict once and for all.
– Ann McKechin: Latest report by European heads of mission in East Jerusalem states that Israeli policies in Jerusalem are aimed at “cementing its unilateral and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem”, with an unprecedented surge in settlement activity. Does he concur and, if so, what is he doing to ensure the future of Jerusalem as a shared capital as part of the negotiations?
– WH: Jerusalem, as a shared capital, is part of what we believe is a characteristic of achieving a two-state solution, along with a solution based on 1967 borders, with agreed land swaps and with a just, fair and agreed settlement for refugees. It is vital that that possibility is kept open. Settlements on occupied land are illegal and I will make that point again to an Israeli Minister this afternoon.
– Matthew Offord: Last December Foreign Secretary said HMG had made clear to the PA that there was no alternative to negotiations and that we oppose unilateral measures. What representation has he made to PA following its return to unilateral actions last week, in violation of its commitment to abstain for the duration of direct peace talks?

– WH: I called President Abbas last Thursday to repeat that the only chance for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state is through negotiations. He assured me that he remains committed to negotiations, so we will continue to encourage him and Israeli leaders to make a success—even at this stage—of this opportunity.
– Louise Ellman: Both sides must return to negotiations and make great compromises. “Does the Foreign Secretary believe that the Palestinian leadership has been preparing the Palestinians for peace when terrorists freed by Israel have been welcomed in the PA as heroes? A broadcast by PA TV has honoured Dalal Mughrabi, who was responsible for a hijacking in which 37 Israeli citizens, including 12 children, were killed.”
– WH: Prisoner releases are always controversial. I regard President Abbas as a man of peace and pay tribute to his bold leadership and have urged him to continue with that, and we must focus on that.
– Ian Lucas: What is Government policy on Palestine applying as a state to be a member of international political or cultural organisations?
– WH: No decision is imminent or necessary at the moment on the letters of accession to the 15 conventions President Abbas signed last week; it would not be wise for us or other countries to pass judgment on them now.

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– Peter Bone: W hat is Foreign Secretary’s view of the bizarre situation in which this country pays overseas aid to the PA which uses it to pay salaries to the families of convicted terrorists in Israel?
– Hugh Robertson: Our entire focus now has to be to get behind the peace process. “Once that process has been concluded—I hope successfully—there will be an opportunity to look at all these issues afresh.”

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Commons Oral Answers

2. David Winnick: What is UK policy on PLO’s intention to seek official recognition from UN bodies, and will Foreign Secretary make a statement?

Commons Written Answers

3. Palestine Questions tabled by Lord Hylton:

– Lord Hylton: What discussions have HMG had with Israel and Palestine about the consequences of the failure of the current negotiations to make substantial progress by the end of April?
– Baroness Sayeeda Warsi: Current negotiations represent a unique opportunity to achieve a just and lasting solution.

– Lord Hylton: “Is it not shameful that, 40 years after the last international war in the region and 20 years after the Oslo agreements, there is still no final status agreement? Will the Government insist that the Government of Israel make their own proposals for ending the blockade of Gaza and the military and colonial occupation of the West Bank, otherwise world opinion will insist on boycott, disinvestment and sanctions? Will Europe and the Middle East use their economic power to counterbalance the huge strength of Israel? Will Her Majesty’s Government discuss this urgently?”

– SW: We all would like the MEPP resolved.

– Lord Phillips: “Does my noble friend accept that the negotiations are doomed, and that Mr Netanyahu and his Cabinet know that they are doomed, so long as Israel goes on colonising the West Bank illegally and relentlessly? Is that not the reality, and what are we going to do about it?”

– SW: Situation on the ground continues to change.

– Lord Wood: What explanation have HMG received from Israel about why they did not release the fourth group of prisoners last week?

– SW: “The noble Lord will be aware that there is a difference of opinion about how these matters are seen. Israel felt that these prisoner releases were directly linked to the peace talks. The Palestinians believed that they were directly linked to no further action at the UN. Clearly, the discussions that took place at that stage were vague.” [extract]

– Lord Leigh: “Does the Minister agree that unilateral Palestinian action at the UN and other international organisations has been very counterproductive? Does she agree that it is surprising that the EU has not used further efforts to bring Mr Abbas back to the table, given the €5.6 billion in aid that has gone to the Palestinian Authority in the past 10 years?”

– SW: “It is not the Government’s decision to be taking sides in this matter. There have been counterproductive actions on both sides. There are things that both sides agreed to that have not been delivered.” [extract]

– Lord Wright: Did the Prime Minister raise settlements and demolitions with Mr Netanyahu when he visited Israel and what was Mr Netanyahu’s justification for continuing these illegal breaches of Palestinian human rights?

– SW: Human rights issue was raised; I do not know what the response was. If I get it, I will write to the noble Lord.

– Lord Turnberg: Extremely unfortunate that talks seem to be breaking down. “Instead of the blame game that will undoubtedly follow, with the Palestinians blaming the Israelis for not releasing prisoners and continuing to build on the West Bank, and Israel accusing the Palestinians of going to the UN before they have agreed to go and not agreeing that the Jewish state exists, should we not be thinking of a plan B?”

– SW: Foreign Secretary spoke to President Abbas last week, and is hoping to speak to the Israelis later this week. “There has been an unprecedented EU package, in which we have played a part, which is on the table—socially, economically, politically and developmentally—if this peace deal were to be reached.”

– Lord Hussain: How many times since the resumption of talks have Israel announced new settlements and how is that helping the negotiations?

– SW: “There have been further settlement announcements since negotiations resumed last year: first, on 8 August last year, secondly on 30 October, thirdly on 3 November and then on 6 January this year. As I said, this is not an issue of playing the blame game. Both sides are doing things that were not agreed to, which is why we want them to get back to the negotiating table and do what was agreed.”

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4. On what basis have HMG established an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in the UK? – tabled by Baroness Falkner

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Nos 3-4 Lords Oral Answers

5. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the impact of the proximity of Israeli settlements and refugee camps on the number of children’s injuries in those areas?

6. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the different types of live ammunition, such as bullets which splinter on impact, currently used by the IDF in the OPTs?

7. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the concerns of Jewish diaspora groups such as Yachad, regarding Israel’s adherence to the norms of international law?

Nos 5-7 

8. Lord Turnberg: What discussions have HMG had with the Arab League about its support for the position of Mahmoud Abbas that not to recognise Israel as a Jewish State is a pre-condition for continuing negotiations for a two-state solution?

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9. Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG held with EU partners concerning the role of Marwan Barghouti in respect of uniting Palestinian factions, and how do they assess the possibility of his release from prison?

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10. Lord Turnberg: What is HMG’s assessment of recent increase in terrorist activity by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin?

Nos 5-10 Lords Written Answers

11. International Development Committee, scrutinising UK’s Development Work in the ME:

a) Witnesses on first panel: Maria Calivis, Regional Director for MENA, UNICEF; Amin Awad, Director of MENA Office, UNHCR, and Mourad Wahba, Deputy Regional Director, Division for Arab States, UNDP. [09:55-10:53] Questions were put by Committee Chairman Sir Malcolm Bruce, Peter Luff, Fabian Hamilton, Fiona Bruce, Michael McCann. Most of the questions are about Syria, including difficulties of getting supplies into refugee camps, eg Yarmouk. From 10:47 they touch on their involvement in OPTs, mentioning very briefly children’s education and protection and a study on the detention of children in Israeli prisons; and their agencies’ interaction with DfID]

b) Witnesses on second panel: Yossi Mekelberg, Lecturer in International Relations and Politics, Regent’s University, London; Tony Laurance, CEO of MAP; Nicola Cobbold, CEO of Portland Trust. All the questions were on Palestine. Issues discussed: how DfID should respond if peace process collapses; sustainability of funding PA and UNWRA; chances of getting Israel to share the burden; Gaza blockade; problems in the health sectors; need for ppi initiatives; settlements; demolitions; land grabs; fundamentalist settler activity; building materials and water restrictions; Israel punishing Gazans to get at Hamas. Substantive replies well worth listening to. Imminent lack of quorum forced early conclusion.[10:55 to 11:46]


12. Back Bench Business Committee:

– Grahame M Morris, supported by Bob Stewart and Sarah Teather, calls for a full day’s votable debate on the motion: That this House recognises the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.

– Guto Bebb, supported by Louise Ellman and Sir Alan Beith, also call for a full day’s debate on the motion: That this House supports the continuation of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a 2-s-s for Israel and Palestine. Alan Beith argues that a vote on Grahame M Morris’ motion would be interpreted across the world as representing the view of HMG. Committe Chair Natascha Engel and other members urge the two groups of applicants to work together on submitting a general, more open debate.

Worth a listen>

@ 16:01:00

Nos 11-12 Commons Select Committees


1. Philp Hollobone: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of recent claims by Nabil Shaath that reason PA has not stopped negotiations is because it wants release of all prisoners arrested by Israel before the Oslo Accords?
2. Mark Williams: What reports has Foreign Secretary received on the pilot recently introduced by the Israeli government in response to the recommendations of the Children in Military Custody report of June 2012?
Nos 1-2

3. Andrew Percy: What recent reports has Foreign Secretary received on financial payments by the PA to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails?
Nos 1-3 Commons Written Answers

4. HoC Arms Export Controls Committee, in its series of hearings to scrutinise government policy on arms exports, is asking Peter Hain whether he agrees that the present government has relaxed long-established UK policy. In particular, whether the broad test of “general concern”, which he as foreign secretary during the last government articulated in his 26.10.2000 policy statement, has been dropped by the present government. Hain confirms that in his view the “broad test” has indeed disappeared from latest government statements and that now only the narrow “clear risk” criterion appears to apply. The following extract occurs @ 16.28.40:
“Bob Stewart: Do you have a concrete example of a broad criteria refusal and do you have a concrete example of a narrow criteria refusal in export licences? [elaboration omitted] “Peter Hain: I can’t remember a concrete example, but if I were to imagine a specific case, it might be that in the context of ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians you might say that in terms of issuing an export licence to Israel that you were concerned about the possibility of it being used for internal repression; however a peace process had been established, there was no active conflict at the time and you might judge that there was no clear risk. Now, I can’t recall that being the case, because the situation…. there was a peace process in 2000 and in the months leading up to it. But then the intifada happened after that broke down and the conflict resumed. That might be the kind of situation that you could imagine.”
Parliament TV>
Commons Select Committee

5. Lord Hylton: What representations have HMG made to Jordan concerning reports of Palestinian refugees being held under harsh conditions in Cyber City refugee camp in northern Jordan?
Lords Written Answers>