THURSDAY 19 JUNE 2014
1. Business of the House:
– Matthew Offord: Says he visited WB last year. “The security of the Jordan valley is controlled by Israel, as the Israeli Government insist that they have significant security concerns about the misuse of the area should they relinquish control. That view is now justified following the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers last week, possibly to be used in a swap such as that which occurred with Gilad Shalit. Given that only a return to direct peace talks can achieve a peace deal, may we have a Minister come to the Dispatch Box to say what the British Government are doing as part of the Quartet in seeking such a deal?”
– Andrew Lansley: “The House and HMG condemn the abduction in the strongest terms and call for the release of the teenagers to their families as soon as possible. Obviously, this is not strictly a matter for this Government but it is something about which we feel strongly and on which we have called for action.” [extract]
Commons Oral Answers
2. “That the Draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 16 June, be approved”:
– James Brokenshire outlines proposal to add to the proscribed list five further groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
– Mike Gapes: Questions why the PFLP-GC, which has been involved in various forms of terrorist-related activities since 1968, against Israel and elsewhere, has not been on a proscribed list since then? “Why is it only now, when it seems to be fighting on behalf of the Assad regime, that we are listing it? It has been carrying out terrorist actions against Israel and elsewhere for a number of years, but it is only now, suddenly, that it appears on a list.”
– JB: “PFLP-GC is a left-wing nationalist Palestinian militant organisation. It was formed in 1968. It is based in Syria, and it was involved in the Palestine insurgency during the 1970s and 1980s. It is separate from the similarly named PFLP. From its outset, the group has been a Syrian proxy. The PFLP-GC has been fighting in the Syrian war in support of Assad, including in the Yarmouk refugee camp in July 2013. The group has also issued statements in support of the Syrian Government, Hezbollah and Iran. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the US, Canada, Israel and European Union.” [extract]
– MG: “I understand from the explanatory memorandum that the organisation was involved in training Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which are already listed as proscribed organisations by our Government. Why has it taken so long for it to be listed as a terrorist organisation?”
– JB: “Our determination is that it is now right to add the PFLP-GC.” [extract]
– Diana Johnson: “The PFLP-GC started life as a group committed to the destruction of the state of Israel.” [extract]
– MG: “Perhaps we were not as strong about these issues in the past, as though it was somehow okay if the PFLP-GC was engaged in terrorist activities against Israelis and it is only when countries or organisations are directly involved in terrorism against us or are a possible threat to us that we start listing them. We have to get away from that mindset.” [extract] [see also last item below]
3. Jeremy Corbyn: What research has DfID undertaken into the humanitarian effects of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza? [Alan Duncan: “Israeli movement and access restrictions do tremendous damage to the Palestinian economy; the World Bank has estimated that easing restrictions on Area C alone could increase Palestinian GDP by 35%. In Gaza, Israeli restrictions on movements of goods and people do tremendous damage to the economy and living standards of ordinary people. 80% of the households in Gaza are below the poverty line, and 57% are food insecure. The UN predicts that by 2020 Gaza may no longer be a ‘liveable’ place.”]
4. Roger Godsiff: What representations has UK made to Israel following Israeli parliament’s consideration of legislation to allow force-feeding of Palestinian administrative detainees on hunger strike?
5. Caroline Lucas: Will Foreign Secretary make representations to his Israeli counterpart in favour of the removal of demolition orders from all structures at the Tent of Nations farm?
Nos 3-5 Commons Written Answers
6. Question for Short Debate asked by Lord Dykes on the threat from the spread of militant aggressive jihadism in the ME:
– Lord Dykes: Reflecting on the Iraq invasion, says “the publication of the Chilcot report later this year will throw what I guess will be an ominous light on the crafty dealings between President Bush and Prime Minister Blair on why they went to war: the US spluttering indignantly about the threat of a French veto—the first ever major one, if they were to exercise it—against the background of more than 30 American vetoes since 1968, allowing increasingly extreme Israeli Governments of growing right-wing tendency to flout international law at will in the OPTs.” The warning ‘Beware the inexorable rise of the military-industrial complex’ was the valedictory of President Eisenhower. “His advice was totally ignored for reasons of oil, money, imperialism and the helping of the rise of the aggressive form of Zionism which is letting down the marvellous country of Israel itself.” As a long-term friend of Israel, he says it is a fabulous country with a wonderful people, “but they are increasingly badly let down on foreign policy and policies towards Palestine by an increasingly extreme right-wing Government, sadly doing the wrong things and making the wrong decisions. I say that even now, after the tragic kidnapping of the three young Israeli seminary students; I hope that they will be released as soon as possible, but the way to deal with that is not the way in which the Israeli Government are doing it. The Palestinians must have their place in the sun and we should respect, not denounce, their common Government of technocrats and Hamas. The quartet has been hopeless in this sense for many years; it has simply betrayed the Palestinians, whose elections have been postponed for far too long by President Abbas. After all, Palestine cannot be the only country in the world literally without its own Government and elections. The UN has to respond if this tragic situation continues.”
– Lord Desai: “Modernity has been a challenge to Islam. There have been different responses to it, especially since the three defeats that the secular and socialist Arab Governments faced against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973.” The world needs a general conference on all problems of the ME, including the Israel/Palestine problem.
– Lord Ahmed: The American refusal to accept Hamas in Palestine was one example of the international community withholding recognition of legitimate elections.
7. Lord Taylor of Holbeach presents proposal to enter further groups under the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014. [see also item 2 above]
WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE 2014
1. Mark Menzies [in Questions to the DfID Secretary]: Given that the unity Government of Palestine have unequivocally endorsed the Quartet principles, will she confirm that she will robustly continue DFID’s financial support to them, or even increase it?
Commons Oral Answers
2. Andy Slaughter: Will DfID Secretary take steps to ensure that the funding of infrastructure projects in the Jordan valley is not dependent on approval from Israel?
3. Alex Cunningham: Will DfID Secretary take steps to ensure that the funding of infrastructure projects in the Jordan valley is not dependent on approval from Israel?
4. Jim McGovern: What recent assessment has DfID made of the effect of illegal settlements on the economic development of Palestine?
2-4 Commons Written Answers
5. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the Palestinian footballers, Adam and Johar Halabiya, who were reportedly arrested without charge at the Jordan and West Bank border, following their hospital treatment for gunshot wounds?
6. Lord Hylton: What representations have HMG made to Israel about holding children detained in the WB and East Jerusalem in immediate solitary confinement; do they have any plans to work within the EU to end the practice; do they know when the proposed system of summons will start; and will they take steps to ensure parental access?
7. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the impact of the FCO-sponsored report, Children in Military Custody, on Israeli interrogation methods of Palestinian children; and what follow-up to the report do they intend to undertake?
Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 17 JUNE 2014
1. Questions to the Foreign Secretary:
– Andrew Selous: What discussions has he had with Israel on the new Palestinian Government?
– William Hague: The Minister for MENA last discussed the matter with Tzipi Livni on 12 June.
– AS: “The Foreign Secretary has said that the United Kingdom’s continued support for the new Palestinian Government depends on their commitment to the principle of non-violence and acceptance of Israel’s legitimate right to exist. Does the UK’s continuing support for Israel also rest on the commitment to non-violence and the Palestinians’ right to a home of their own?”
– WH: “Long-standing recognition of Israel and support for its right to exist is evident in this country, but we want to see all sides in the middle east come together to agree a two-state solution that brings lasting security and peace to Israel and a sovereign, viable state for Palestinians.” [extract]
– Louise Ellman: Can Hamas be currently peace negotiators when only a month ago its Prime Minister called for the bombing of Tel Aviv?
– WH: As we did before, we want Hamas to renounce violence and recognise Israel. “We call on all those in the region with influence over Hamas to encourage it to take these steps. It has not done so; it should do so.” The new Government of the PA do not contain Hamas members and have signed up to the Quartet principles.
– Alistair Burt: Does he agree that Egypt maintaining its support for the peace agreement with Israel is an essential pillar for going forward and that unless they seek a proper solution now the outlook is bleak for both the Israelis and the Palestinians if we cannot rekindle the MEPP.
– WH: Yes, time is running out. The opportunity created by Secretary Kerry is still open, but unless it is seized by both sides, “the outlook will be very, very bleak within the next few years”.
– Ian Paisley: Will he elaborate on discussions he has had with Israel on the kidnapping of Israeli civilians?
– WH: “I discussed this on Sunday with the Israeli security Minister, Mr Steinitz. I will be talking to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr Lieberman, later today.” [extract]
– Martin Horwood: “Is there any way in which the considerable economic ties between the EU and both Palestine and Israel can be used to encourage both parties back to the negotiating table?” [extract]
– WH: If a 2-s-s could be agreed, then for both sides the outlook for close economic ties with the whole of the EU would be very bright indeed. “That is part of the great prize of settling these issues and a further incentive to do so.”
– Ben Bradshaw: What is his policy on trade with the WB?
– WH: “I deplore the recent decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to expand the number of illegal settlements. The UK’s position on this is long standing: settlements are illegal—we neither support nor encourage trade, we make clear the risks to business, and we ensure all consumers can make their own choice through the labelling of goods.”
– BB: Given that the talks were scuppered by the relentless expansion of the illegal settlements, and given Senator Kerry’s warning that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state, “is now not the time for a recalibration of our policy towards Israel, beginning with the illegal settlements?”
– WH: “I think the honest answer to that is no, because our efforts are geared towards a resumption of negotiations if it is at all possible. Secretary Kerry has said that there is a pause in the negotiations; we would like to see them revived. I think everything we do has to be consistent with supporting that, but we have made our views about recent settlements announcements abundantly clear.” [extract]
– Bob Stewart: How can we change the fact that Palestinian Arabs continue to be tried under martial law in the Ofer military court, whereas Israelis living there are subject to civil law?
– WH: This too will have to be resolved in the 2-s-s. “Otherwise, there will constantly be the great variety of extremely troubling issues that are raised in this House.”
– Ian Austin: Isn’t it Britain’s role to get Israelis and Palestinians working together and trading with each other, instead of campaigning for BDS which just drives people further apart? “The Palestinians working at SodaStream are paid three times more than the average Palestinian, so boycotting such companies would actually hurt the very people they claim to be trying to help.”
– WH: HMG do not support boycotts or a de-legitimisation of Israel, but we do support labelling of products from illegal WB settlements.
– Duncan Hames: “Does the Foreign Secretary believe that the public can have confidence in the labelling of goods from illegal settlements, or can the supply chain be sufficiently complex to ensure that the public do not have the information they may seek?” [extract]
– WH: “The evidence I have seen is that the guidelines on this are well observed, and work is going on on EU-wide guidelines. But of course, where there are serious problems with them, if my hon. Friend or others would like to bring that to our attention, I will investigate.”
– Grahame M Morris: Does he agree that residents of East Jerusalem must be permitted to vote in the Palestinian elections, which includes the free passage of movement and the release of Palestinian MPs held in administrative detention?
– WH: It is very important that Palestinians are able to vote freely in the elections and we will make that point to the Israelis and to the Palestinians.
– Robert Halfon: Israel faces increased threat from terrorism, for instance the recent kidnappings by Hamas. Does he agree that softening our approach to Iran will exacerbate these problems?
– WH: “I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no softening of any of our policies in relation to Iran. We look to Iran to cease support for sectarian groups elsewhere in the middle east and to reach a successful conclusion to nuclear negotiations, but I believe that it is important to discuss such issues with Iran, and we need the ability to do so.” [extract]
– Michael Fabricant: Does he agree that the new Egyptian Government, unlike the previous one, will offer stability in their relationship with Israel, particularly on the border with Israel?
– WH: We certainly hope that Egypt will enjoy a period of stability.
– Andrew Percy: Hamas has declared the abduction of three Israelis to be a success. We will not get peace with a unity Government that includes people with views like the Hamas Prime Minister who said in April 2014: “Abducting Israeli soldiers is a top priority on the agenda of Hamas and Palestinian resistance.” Will the Foreign Secretary condemn him?
– WH: There are no Hamas members in the new Government of the PA and it has signed up to the Quartet principles. “I absolutely condemn any encouragement to foment further tensions, including the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers. That is exactly the sort of thing that obstructs a successful peace process and is presumably designed to do so. It is important that Hamas or anyone else desists from it.”
– Philip Hollobone: Last year, the PA paid more than £60 million to Palestinians convicted of terror offences. What is his assessment of the reports that the PLO been mandated by the PA to continue practice of financially rewarding terrorism?
– WH: The PA is working very hard in its new incarnation and with its new members; it is committed to the Quartet principles. We give considerable financial aid to the PA and I know that DfID takes great care over the allocation and use of that aid.
– Rob Wilson: What steps is he taking to ensure that the Palestinian elections in places such as East Jerusalem will be free and democratic?
– WH: It will be of paramount importance that those elections are free and democratic and that Palestinians throughout the occupied territories will be able to take part. “We will of course make representations to the Israelis and to the Palestinians about that.”
– David Ward: While there has been a pause in negotiations there has been no pause in the expansion of illegal settlements. “What is the point of something being illegal under international law if the international community is not willing to deal with the criminal breaking the law? Is not this softly, softly approach towards Israel failing to bring about peace and justice for the Palestinians?”
– WH: We have to continue to try bring about a lasting peace through a 2-s-s. All our actions are therefore consistent with promoting that.
– Mark Durkan: Has he emphasised to the Israelis that travel restrictions or other constraints preventing Ministers in the new government from meeting will mean they are unable to meet their responsibilities not just to all Palestinians but to the peace process?
– WH: Of course we want them to be able to function and to make decisions.
Commons Oral Answers
2. Tim Farron presents a petition calling on the UK Government to urge the Government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people to adequate and safe water supply.
3. Julian Huppert: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the potential effects on the MEPP of the new unity Palestinian government?
4. Fiona O’Donnell: What representations has HMG made to Israel on the recent arrest of Mahmoud Zwahre in Al Maasara, Bethlehem?
Nos 3-4 Commons Written Answers
5. “Eastern Mediterranean: Turkey, Cyprus and Syria” debate:
– Lord Sharkey: Asking what is HMG’s assessment of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, dwells at length at the problems caused by Israel, saying, i.a.: “Israel is a flashpoint for conflict locally, regionally and internationally. It is a close ally of America and the West, yet an unrepentant and serial flouter of UN resolutions. Has western policy helped the course of peace and reconciliation here? Has it reduced the dangers that the Israeli situation has generated and continues to generate?”
– Lord Howell refers to the significant new gas resources discovered off Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, saying “Israel has gone fast ahead already
with gas from the Tamar and, shortly, the Leviathan fields in very large quantities, which could be exported through an Israeli pipeline, possibly through Cyprus, north and south, into Turkey or by other means.”
– Lord Anderson: “So far as the Middle East peace process is concerned, the Kerry initiative is dead. We commend his valiant efforts but what will follow? Will there be any chance of EU unity, as there was not over the Palestine question at the UN General Assembly 20 months ago? We understand the Israeli priority of security, yet part of the problem is posed by asking the question of Prime Minister Netanyahu: what is your aim or vision for the region in 10 years’ time? Answer there is none, probably, because he simply wishes to keep the ship afloat.” [extract]
– Baroness Morgan: Says that Prime Minister Erdogan has been slow to reconcile with Israel “despite a partial apology by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the deaths of Turkish citizens during the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010.”
Lords Grand Committee
MONDAY 16 JUNE 2014
1. Mark Williams:What is the UK position on the future status of Jerusalem?
2. Philip Hollobone: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the new Palestinian government’s approach to the peace process?
3. Bob Stewart: What reports has Foreign Secretary received on the practice of Palestinian youths being tried by military courts and sentenced to prison for minor offences?
Nos 1-3 Commons Written Answers
4. Question tabled by Baroness Tonge:
– Baroness Tonge: What plans do HMG have to recognise the state of Palestine?
– Baroness Warsi: “We reserve the right to recognise a Palestinian state at a moment of our choosing and when it helps best to bring about peace.” [extract]
– Baroness Tonge: Queen’s Speech promised a foreign policy “based on respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law”. Should we not recognise Palestine immediately and suspend the EU-Israel association agreement?
– Baroness Warsi: As we said at the time of the 2012 UNGA upgrade, ultimately we would like to see the recognition of Palestinian state, represented in all UN organs. Secretary Kerry’s proposal for a negotiated solution is best way forward; UK will chose its own time for accepting the State of Palestine.
– Lord Pannick: Progress towards a peace settlement would be enhanced if Hamas could secure release of the kidnapped Israeli teenagers.
– Baroness Warsi: HMG have strongly condemned the abductions; “We are still trying to find details of what is happening on the ground, but of course it has led to escalation, including, tragically, the death of a Palestinian child.”
– Lord Winston: Given surrounding countries’ instability, Israeli is understandably concerned about “a Government who might be led by Hamas and who are committed to the destruction of Israel”.
– Baroness Warsi: “We are heartened by the fact that the quartet principles have been endorsed by the new technocratic Government.” [extract]
– Baroness Falkner: For two years we have been told that this is the last chance saloon; what is HMG’s position now that the US have more or less said there is nowhere left to go? “Will the Government consider replacing the current system of the Middle East quartet envoy and so on with a fresh impetus and a completely new look at whether a 2-s-s is indeed the right answer?”
– Baroness Warsi: Yes, we have to start looking at other ways of reaching the 2-s-s. “As to the role of the quartet, my noble friend will be aware that it is not just for the United Kingdom to impose who leads it. I would be interested to hear from the Benches opposite whether they feel a change in personnel is needed.”
– Lord Wright: The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation offers Israel a unique opportunity to work genuinely towards a 2-s-s. “On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, if this story is true it is horrendous, but is the Minister aware that similar outrages are being committed daily by the Israeli Defence Forces and by the settlers themselves? This is the time to recognise Palestine as a state.”
– Baroness Warsi: A unified authority is essential as long as it abides by the Quartet principles. “I can stand at this Dispatch Box and give a list of things that the Israelis are alleged to have done and a list of things that the Palestinians are alleged to have done, but I am not sure whether that blame game is going to take us any further. What I am clear about is that a Palestinian life and an Israeli life are equally important. It is therefore right that what we do respects the sanctity of life, and the basic human rights that people require whether they are Israeli or Palestinian.”
– Lord Bach: Do HMG intend to work with the new unity Government and if so what specific steps are they taking in that regard?
– Baroness Warsi: We have recognised the technocratic Government and give credit to President Abbas for making sure that it is one that we can work with and is acceptable to the international community. We continue wanting to ensure that there is a viable Palestinian state when that moment arises.
– Lord Dykes: Once these two countries come together and shake hands, “similar to South Africa”, they can work together to create a Near East common market; then peace will prevail for everyone.
– Baroness Warsi: Yes, there is nothing I would like more than to be in a Government who finally managed to resolve this matter.