WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH 2016
- Question concerning Palestinian Authority Television – tabled by Lord Polak:
– Lord Polak: What representations have HMG made to the Palestinian Authority following the broadcast of programmes on official Palestinian Authority television encouraging violence against Israeli citizens? I give notice to the House of my non-financial registered interest as president of CFI.
– Baroness Anelay: We regularly raise incitement with the Palestinian Authority. The Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, did so during his visit to the region in February. The UK’s consul-general to Jerusalem last discussed incitement with President Abbas on 17 March, including our concerns about television broadcasts. We also raise incitement with Israel. We encourage the revival of a tripartite committee on incitement to address precisely these issues.
– Lord Polak: I thank the Minister for her Answer. Since September 2015, ironically, 34 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks and there have been 206 stabbings, 83 shootings and 42 car rammings. Is the Minister aware that only three weeks ago—on 1 March—on a programme on the official PATV called “Children’s Talk”, a young girl recited a poem which included the line: “To war, that will smash the oppressor and destroy the Zionist soul”? Can the Minister be certain that this sort of appalling incitement is not supported directly or indirectly by the British taxpayer? On the day after the atrocities and shocking acts in Brussels, where another 34 innocent lives were snuffed out, will the Minister join me in condemning incitement and terror, wherever it occurs?
– Baroness Anelay: I do indeed join my noble friend in condemning incitement and terrorism wherever it occurs. It was a mark of respect from this House that at 11 am today we had one minute’s silence in memory of the appalling events with the murder of those in Brussels. I know the Prime Minister has said that we will do all we can to help there. I also note that both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed their opposition to the terrorism that had taken place in Brussels. (Lord Winston
wants to come in) If I may just answer the mainstay of my noble friend’s question, he asked about expenditure by the British taxpayer. No expenditure by the British taxpayer supports any form of incitement or terrorism, either in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We support projects that support peace, such as the project by the NGO Kids Creating Peace, which brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn why peace works.
– Lord Winston: Is the Minister aware that I have a film clip on my computer—I am happy to show it to her—which shows a little girl aged three-and-a-half saying on Saudi television that she hates Jews because they are apes and monkeys, and this is what is repeated in the Koran? Then, straight to camera, the announcer says, “Is Allah to be praised that, Bismillah, this little girl, has such supporters after her?”. This was broadcast across a whole range of Arab countries. Will the Minister perhaps join me in condemning this kind of broadcast quite publicly? I am happy to send her the film.
– Baroness Anelay: Noble Lords around the House have made me aware of matters of incitement that have been broadcast, not only on television and media outside the Occupied Territories and Israel but within both. We give no equivalence to incitement, whether it is against those who are Israelis or those who are in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What we say is that incitement is wrong.
– Lord Wright: I am reluctant to enter into a tit-for-tat argument but is the Minister aware of a devastating report by two Israeli organisations into the recent abuse and torture of Palestinian prisoners at the Shikma interrogation facility in Ashkelon? If so, will the Government consider joining our European partners in making appropriate representations to the Israeli Government?
– Baroness Anelay: Our diplomats in Israel make regular representations of concern about events there. As I have already said, we draw no equivalence with regard to incitement and activity. We say that it is important for those who want to achieve peace to ensure that they work together. It is only by negotiating a peace that we can achieve it; incitement is an enemy of peace.
– Lord Palmer of Childs Hill: The Minister has mentioned the consul-general in east Jerusalem and our diplomats there. Can she tell the House what representations have been or will be made to the consul-general following the International Women’s Day message on the official Palestinian Authority TV channel on 7 March this year, which urged Palestinian women to remember the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi who led the lethal coastal massacre which killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children?
– Baroness Anelay: I am able to give a little detail about the most recent contacts, which might help the noble Lord. In January, Her Majesty’s consul-general in Jerusalem met Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, who had called the recent attacks there “heroic”. Our consul-general also met the Minister of Health, Jawad Awwad. The ministry had issued a statement praising the Tel Aviv New Year’s Day shooter, Nashat Melhem. As for television, the director of pro-Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch describes decades-long propaganda campaigns on PA-sponsored children’s programmes which depict Jews and Israelis as enemies of God. Her Majesty’s consul-general in Jerusalem has raised this with the Palestinian Authority as part of broader lobbying on incitement since this Question was tabled. I thought it would be helpful to update the noble Lord on that.
– Lord Davies of Stamford: Raising the matter of incitement, to use the noble Baroness’s word, does not seem to have had much effect. Will she remind the House of the amount of aid that we give the Palestinian Authority, both directly and via EU projects? Will she consider saying clearly to the Palestinian Authority that it is quite unacceptable for it to be taking British public money on the one hand and, on the other, using its own resources to subsidise networks that produce the propaganda in favour of terrorism that we have heard quoted in the House today?
– Baroness Anelay: The noble Lord is correct to point out that, through DfID, we provide significant humanitarian aid to the people who are suffering in Gaza. It is conditional on the basis that it only goes to people in need. The Palestinian Authority should make best efforts to resume control of Gaza and re-engage in discussions with Israel about how peace may be achieved.
– Lord Collins of Highbury: There is no justification for terrorism or for the actions that we saw yesterday. We unequivocally condemn them. The Minister is absolutely right. Our focus is on keeping the two-state solution and hopes for peace alive. We need to invest in interfaith, intercommunity activity. Will she commit to doing more of this because, at the moment, it is extremely limited?
– Baroness Anelay: I wholeheartedly agree with the noble Lord. During the early part of this year, we reopened bids for the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, which is FCO-based. It has been doubled this year to its highest ever level. We will welcome bids if they qualify for support. The noble Lord is right; we need to do more to help.
Hansard video: @ 11:23:14 http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c5c641e8-363a-4f9f-aab0-1ce38c5f0ad8
Lords Oral Answers
TUESDAY 22 MARCH 2016
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel following reports of the Israeli navy opening fire on Palestinian fishing boats off al-Sudaniya and Gaza city, on 1 March, and what assessment have they made, if any, of the damage done on that and other occasions?
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel about why the Israel Defence Forces have been positioned behind the Green Line and on 1 March fired on Beit Hanun farmland and farmers working in fields east of Juhor al-Dik?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel following raids on the Gaza Strip on 12 March, and in particular the deaths and injuries of children resulting from those raids?
Nos 1-3 Lords Written Answers
MONDAY 21 MARCH 2016
- Immigration Bill – discussion of Lord Dubs’ Amendment (116A):
– Lord Judd: In the world at the moment, there are 19.5 million refugees, which is around 2.9 million more than in 2013. Of those, 5.1 million are Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. Who is looking after these refugees? Who is hosting them? The overwhelming majority—86% of the world’s refugees—are cared for by developing countries that are desperately impoverished themselves, with many of their citizens not knowing what it is to live life as we live it. Think of that, and then think of this small action that we are being challenged to take today by my noble friend Lord Dubs. Beyond the refugees, there are of course all the internally displaced people—millions again. [extract]
- Baroness Tonge: What has been the total financial commitment by the UK to Gaza since fighting ceased in 2014?
- Baroness Tonge: What percentage of the UK financial commitment to Gaza since fighting ceased in 2014 has been spent, and on what?
- Baroness Tonge: What further plans do HMG have to assist reconstruction in Gaza, and what is the timescale and financial commitment for that further assistance, if any?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel about allowing visits of parliamentarians to Gaza?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel regarding the continued withholding of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, and have they determined why those bodies have been kept for so long?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel concerning unexploded ordnance left after military training close to Palestinian property?
- Lord Turnberg: In the light of the death of an American tourist and the wounding of several citizens by a Palestinian in Tel Aviv on 7 March, will HMG press the leadership of the Palestinian Authority to condemn that, and other similar incidents, and to reduce incitement to violence?
- Marquess of Lothian: What response have HMG made to the plans announced by the government of Israel in January to appropriate further tracts of agricultural land in the West Bank for illegal settlement building?
- Marquess of Lothian: What response have HMG made to recent UN figures that, between 1 January and 2 March, Israel has demolished 121 structures in the occupied West Bank funded partly or fully by international donors compared to 108 such demolitions during 2015; and have they raised that issue with the government of Israel?
- Baroness Deech: What representations have HMG made to the government of Iran following the announcement by the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon that Iran will pay $7,000 to the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists who die in the process of attacking any Israeli?
Nos 2-11 Lords Written Answers