THURSDAY 10 OCTOBER 2013
1. Ian Lucas: Has FCO received reports by Military Court Watch dated 20 May, 25 June, 25 July and 28 August 2013? [Hugh Robertson: FCO officials have seen these reports]
2. Cathy Jamieson: What information does FCO hold on ages of Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons? [Hugh Robertson: None]
3. Richard Burden: Pursuant to answer of 12 June 2013 (viz. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130612/text/130612w0002.htm#13061290000049), when will Foreign Secretary make specific guidance on human rights issues in overseas markets available on the Overseas Business Risk Service website? [Hugh Robertson: The website is still in the process of development]
4. Stephen Phillips: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of likelihood of reactivation of the EU Border Assistance Mission for Rafah crossing? [Hugh Robertson: EUBAM Rafah will be reactivated as soon as political and security conditions allow]
Nos 1-4 Commons Written Answers
5. Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf:
– Lord King of Bridgwater: “I am delighted that, in the next debate, my noble friend [Baroness Warsi] will renew the pressure on United States Secretary of State John Kerry to launch now the initiatives to get real progress on Israel and Palestine.”
Debate in Lords Grand Committee
6. Israel and Palestine:
– Lord Stirrup: We must keep 2-s-s window open as long as possible and mobilise “the many individuals in the UK who maintain important contacts within Israel”; suggests NATO involvement in security and asks if MOD has had discussions with Pentagon or
made assessment of likely UK contribution to an international force.
– Lord Judd: Declares interest as chairman of IPU’s ME Committee; warns against outsiders “masterminding” negotiations; we should facilitate round-table discussions on women’s issues, climate change, and problems of youth and ecourage scholarships for young people to go to Israel and OPTs.
– Lord Palmer of Childs Hill: Has just returned from Israel and West Bank; found much-improved atmosphere between two sides; Livni and Netanyahu committed to 2-s-s; found Rawabi a “heartwarming” example of how viable Palestinian state can be created.
– Lord Hannay: Sees better chance for real progress now Arab-Israeli dispute not centre-stage; continued settlement building “inevitably pushes the situation towards insolubility and drives Israel towards something that it is no hyperbole to call an apartheid regime”; there must be guarantees for Jewish minorities in future Palestinian state and Arab minorities in Israel; we should be ready to talk to Hamas; we should not be chained to US but work with EU partners.
– Lord Anderson: The “good life” enjoyed by people on the beach in Tel Aviv cannot go on for ever; “demography puts a major shadow over the longer term”; among the good signs: the Palestinians have not taken Israel to the ICC, Netanyahu has released some prisoners and promised more investment in WB and Gaza gas fields.
– Lord Williams of Baglan: Wonders if Quartet is right body to oversee peace process, as it excludes China and the Arab countries;
seeks confirmation that Israel supports BG involvement in Gaza gas field project; time running out for Israel; it is doubtful if after Salam Fayyad and Abu Mazen any future Palestinian leader will be able to match their presence and courage.
– Lord Turnberg: Reasons for optimism: Hamas has been weakend by Egypt’s actions; reasons for pessimism: Israel being distracted by greater danger from Iran and Syria, Israel’s security demands being possibly “too hard for Palestinians to swallow”, Palestinian leaders incurring Arab hostility by accepting peace deal with Jewish state; we must press Arab league to support Abbas; US must keep at it and explain to Israel that as its dependence on Arab oil wanes, so might its interest in ME.
– Lord Weidenfeld: BDS a mistake; Israel feels it got nothing back for prisoner releases; as one who was once Weizman’s chef de cabinet and had ring-side seat at negotiations with Jordan’s Abdullah, he is certain that only “the 3 no’s” at Khartoum scuppered the 2-s-s, “a dogma of the Zionist redemption”; Netanyahu is absolutely set on it; “I think that this country and Europe could alleviate the situation by being much more lenient and understanding of the affairs of Israel.”
– Lord Triesman: Quartet’s role being expressed more in economic construction is useful because any political success will have to be underpinned by economic advance: “People will feel an ownership of a new kind of economy. They will have an interest in each other’s success. That is vital.”
– Baroness Warsi: Thanks Lord Stirrup for leading UK delegation with Sir John Scarlett at recent UK-Israel security seminar, which helped UK understand Israel’s security concerns; determined US leadership continues to be crucial: “We are at a critical juncture. Either there is a movement towards peace with strong regional and international support or all of us face an uncertain and potentially dangerous future.”
Hansard video: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=13880 1 hour from start
Debate in Lords Grand Committee
7. Bishop of Coventry: What assessment have HMG made of the number of Palestinian children currently held in Israeli adult military detention centres?
8. Lord Dykes: What steps will HMG take to reverse Israeli seizures of Palestinian West Bank areas for further settlement expansion?
Nos 7-8 Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 9 OCTOBER 2013
1. Andy Slaughter: Was Foreign Secretary made aware of the relevance of the judicial arrest warrant for Mr Doron Almog when granting the application for his special mission? [Hugh Robertson: When Mr Burt decided on the application he was aware that an arrest warrant had been issued and later cancelled]
2. Andy Slaughter: What was the purpose of Mr Almog’s special mission to the UK; which official engagements did he attend; in which capacity did he visit the UK; and will the Foreign Secretary make a statement? [Hugh Robertson: Refers to Alistair Burt’s written answer to Andy Slaughter on 12 July 2013 – viz. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130712/text/130712w0001.htm#13071276000059 ]
Commons Written Answers
TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER 2013
1. Questions to Foreign Secretary on MEPP, Syria and Iran:
– William Hague: MEPP permanent status agreement to be reached within nine months. UK to provide £349 million for Palestinian development over four years. DFID to launch new £15 million Palestinian market development programme.
– Douglas Alexander: Asks what is role US special envoy Martin Indyk and what progress would have to be made in the negotiations before the end of the nine months to justify continuing them?
– WH: US – including the special envoy – has a central role in the meetings; too early to talk about what happens after March 2014.
– Mike Gapes: There is continuing crisis in Gaza and terrorist actions in Sinai; viable Palestinian state not possible without Palestinian unity.
– WH: We call on Israel and Egypt to allow greater access; 40% of the £122 million DfID provides to the PA over four years is spent in Gaza.
– Jeremy Corbyn: A nuclear review conference would have to include not just Iran but also Israel, the only nuclear weapons state in the region.
– Louise Ellman: Declares visit to Israel and Palestinian territories with LFI; asks if Foreign Secretary has received reports of transfers of chemical weapons from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah which could harm Israel, i.a.
– WH: I have no evidence of such a transfer.
– Sandra Osborne: Asks about Palestinian refugees in Lebanon suffering from the influx of refugees from Syria.
– WH: DfID continues to give them strong support through UNWRA
– Stephen Phillips: How long before 2-s-s becomes unviable?
– WH: It does not have long. If the anticipated progress is not made by the time we reach next year, then “many people will question very seriously whether a two-state solution could ever be arrived at.”
– Andrew Slaughter: Israel is not listening, whatever the Secretary of State is saying to them about withdrawal from the OPTs. Senior Israeli ministers have said they will never allow a Palestinian state, so will HMG ban import of settlement goods?
– WH: The Israelis in the negotiations are discussing the creation of a Palestinian state; I do not propose to do anything that would cut across those talks.
– Philip Hollobone: Does Foreign Secretary share Israeli analysis of Iranian nuclear programme?
– WH: Israelis and others are right to be alarmed about it.
– Lilian Greenwood: How does expansion of settlements help Palestinian economy?
– WH: It doesn’t.
2. UK-US Bilateral Relations debate in Westminster Hall:
– Hugo Swire: UK has given full backing to Senator Kerry’s two-state-solution negotiations.
3. UK funding UNWRA support of vulnerable Palestinians affected by crisis in Syria.
DfID Secretary’s correction of a Written Answer
Footnote to Item 1: Nearly every speaker paid warm tribute to Alistair Burt, who is leaving the FCO. Jack Straw said:
“I hope the fact that he was held in as high regard by the Opposition as he was by those on the Government Benches did not contribute to the Prime Minister’s decision yesterday.”