FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 2014
- Soft power and non-military options in conflict prevention – Archbishop of Canterbury
– Lord Anderson of Swansea: [extract] In the Middle East, the work of people such as my noble friend Lord Stone in building up networks between UK supermarkets and Palestinian exporters is an excellent contribution to the infrastructure of peace. Ultimately, however, if there is a settlement, military monitors will be needed.
– Lord Hylton: [extract] Oil and gas profits from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia could flow through their sovereign wealth funds into massive projects to widen the Suez Canal, for example, or to create a new regional hub in Gaza. The last could include an electricity generating ship, which has already been offered by Turkey, a Mulberry-type harbour and the desalination of water.
– Baroness Kinnock: Includes Gaza in her list of “areas afflicted by armed violence”.
– Lord Alderdice: [extract] In Jerusalem, at the moment, there is a deep split between Jewish nationalism within the country and—largely but by no means exclusively—Islamic Palestinians. But Christians have a stake in Jerusalem. If His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the most reverend Primate were together to say to the Israeli Government and Palestinians, “This is not just a fight between the two of you. We have a stake in this as Christians throughout the world”, you would change the psychological dynamic from a fight between two to a relationship with a larger body of people who have a say—not because they want to govern or to rule, and not because they want to send in the legions of His Holiness, but rather because they want to change the dynamic into something fruitful.
– Lord Williams of Baglan: [extract] Praises the work of British NGOs in conflict areas, including Gaza.
– Bishop of Derby: [extract] Another area that we in Christian Aid work in is in Palestine/Israel, where we send people called ecumenical accompaniers. People go from this country to train for three or four months and to live on the West Bank or in Israel. By their presence they give protection and they support Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, and when they come back they are advocates for that kind of experience, that kind of narrative, that kind of working together.
– Baroness Miller: Deplores the fact that Israel still refuses to acknowledge that it has nuclear weapons.
– Lord Wallace [summing up for the Government]: [extract] Prospects for lasting peace in the Israel/Palestine conflict appear dimmer now than at the start of the year.
– Archbishop of Canterbury: [extract] The quasi-policing by hard power may create space for the exercise of soft power and to avoid draining areas of their historic populations—the great danger to Christians in the Middle East at the moment. Simply giving them asylum may end their presence in an area where they have lived for 2,000 years.
THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014
- Baroness Deech [extract from short debate on HoL Procedures and Practices tabled by Lord Foulkes]: My second point relates to the comprehensiveness and evenness of our discussions about foreign affairs. [passage omitted] Can it be right that in one calendar year there were 308 Questions and debates about Israel/Palestine but 27 about Russia and 24 about China? I suggest that an overwhelming number about one country alone does not suggest expertise but obsession. [passage omitted] I complained about this myself in early 2012 when the unfortunately named Arab spring was at its height. I said then that 300 Questions had been tabled in that Session on Israel and only one relating to the Arab spring.
- Lord Palmer of Childs Hill: What is HMG’s assessment of whether the murder of Jewish and Druze Israelis in a Jerusalem Synagogue has heightened security fears in the UK at Jewish synagogues and schools?
- Baroness Tonge: In its negotiations with Israel during the peace process, will the Quartet apply strict conformity to the requirements of the Fourth Geneva Convention?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations will HMG make to Israel in the light of the finding by Defence for Children International that 10 children were killed by live ammunition in the West Bank in 2014?
- Lord Hylton: What funds has the EU contributed to the Palestinian National Security Forces during the last three years; what, if any, bilateral contribution have HMG made and will they propose that all such Forces be made accountable to the Palestinian people? http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141204w0001.htm#14120445000231
Nos 2-5 Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 3 DECEMBER 2014
- Nigel Dodds: What discussions has Foreign Secretary had with the new High Representative for the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Palestinian statehood and the EU’s position on encouraging a two-state solution in the Middle East?
- Matthew Offord: What recent reports has DfID received on the efforts of the PA to access water from the Eastern Mountain Aquifer?
- Jonathan Ashworth: What discussions has DfID Secretary had with her EU counterparts on developing a co-ordinated response to demolition of donor-funded infrastructure in the OPTs as a result of Israeli action?
- Jonathan Ashworth: What DfID-funded projects in East Jerusalem or the West Bank have (a) outstanding stop work orders, (b) outstanding demolition orders and (c) been demolished since 2010; and has HMG asked Israel for compensation for destruction of any aid-funded projects?
- Jonathan Ashworth: What DfID-funded aid projects in Gaza were damaged or destroyed during the recent conflict; and what was the value of UK funding for each such project?
- Matthew Offord: What discussions has DfID had with its international partners and the PA on the proposed construction of a water desalination plant in the Gaza Strip?
Nos 1-6 Commons Written Answers
- Baroness Tonge: What success has the EU had in getting Israel to address the human rights concerns which it regularly raises?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the shooting of Saleh Samer Attiyeh Mahmoud with a sponge bullet on 14 November?
- Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the causes of recent violence in Jerusalem; and what action do they plan to take to address those causes?
- Lord Hylton: Will HMG propose that the EU makes adherence to the ICC a necessary condition for both Israel and Palestine in any negotiations concerning trade, tourism or visas?
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG held with Israeli ministers over the prosecution of settlers for acts of violence against Palestinians?
- Lord Hylton: What proportion of British investment in infrastructure in warzones in Palestine has subsequently been destroyed?
- Baroness Deech: What assessment have HMG made of reports of suppression and harassment of journalists in Gaza and the West Bank?
- Baroness Deech: What representations have HMG made to the PA through the Consulate General in Jerusalem in respect of the number of honour killings in the Palestinian Territories [ed: sic]?
- Baroness Deech: In the light of the recent launch by the UNHCR of the campaign iBelong, which has the aim of ending statelessness within ten years, what representations have HMG made to Arab League countries concerning their policy of refusing citizenship to Palestinian refugees residing in those countries?
Nos 7-15 Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 2 DECEMBER 2014
- Questions to the Foreign Secretary:
– Louise Ellman: What assessment he has made of the effects of incitement to hatred in the Palestinian media on prospects for a peace settlement in that region?
– Philip Hammond: I am aware of recent provocative material published in parts of the Palestinian press. We deplore incitement on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we are clear that inflammatory language and images damage still further the already fragile prospect of peace settlement.
– LE: Official Palestinian Authority TV has praised as martyrs the terrorists who mowed down civilians on the streets of Jerusalem and the terrorists who killed rabbis and others at prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this is about perpetuating hatred and violence rather than promoting peace?
– PH: Yes, and we do not hesitate to raise these instances of incitement with the Palestinian Authority. I spoke to President Abbas last night and raised these issues with him while at the same time thanking him for his personal robust condemnation of the synagogue attack in West Jerusalem . We have to raise these issues whenever they occur, but we should also praise robust responses by leaders of the Palestinian Authority when they make them.
– Julian Huppert: None of us would condone the incitement of hatred, and there is no doubt that there are people on each side who make matters worse, but does the Foreign Secretary agree that illegal settlements, extra-judicial punishments and discriminatory laws also make the search for a peace settlement much harder?
– PH: Yes, we are clear that settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law and, perhaps even more importantly, deeply unhelpful to the prospects of a peace process. We urge the Israelis on every opportunity to cease the settlement programme. If we are to move forward into peace talks, which I fervently hope we can do in the coming weeks and months, there will have to be a cessation of settlement activity while that process is ongoing.
– Andy McDonald: The Israeli Knesset will soon vote on the Jewish state Bill, which would deny national rights to Israeli’s minorities, remove Arabic as a national language and assert that Israeli’s identity as a Jewish state comes before its nature as a democracy. At a time when tensions between Jews and Arabs are running high, does the Foreign Secretary agree that it is wrong for the Government of Israel to press ahead with that discriminatory piece of legislation?
– PH: That is a piece of legislation before the Israeli Parliament, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we are always opposed to discriminatory legislation. Depriving people who are resident within a state of their citizenship and discriminating against them with regard to language will never be conducive to the peaceful co-existence that I think virtually everybody seeks for Israel and Palestine .
– Sir Bob Russell: Does the Foreign Secretary agree that public opinion in the UK is moving strongly against Israel because it is morally indefensible to support a state that has policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid?
– PH: I am not sure that I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of the reasons, but I agree that public opinion is moving against Israel in a country that has traditionally been understanding of the Israeli position. We have made the point strongly to Israeli Ministers and politicians that they are losing the argument and public opinion not only in Britain, but in Europe and, perhaps more importantly for them, in the United States.
– Sir Gerald Kaufman: What will be the effect on the Palestinian media of the renewed Israeli policy of demolishing the houses of offenders, thus making their families homeless and punishing the entire family for the crimes of one person? Is not that inhumane, and ought it not to be stopped?
– PH: We do not approve of the collective punishment strategy and make our views on that very well known on every possible occasion. I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman an analysis of the impact on the Palestinian media, but I can see exactly where he is coming from. We will continue robustly to oppose policies of collective punishment.
– Michael Connarty: What assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the vote by the House on 13 October 2014 on recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel .
– Tobias Ellwood: This weekend marks 67 years since the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which recommended a two-state solution, and it has been 21 years since the Oslo peace accords, so it is no wonder that Parliaments and citizens around the world are calling for debates and for leadership in implementing plans that were devised and agreed decades ago. However, British recognition of Palestine must be not just symbolic but strategic and used in the wider context of securing that solution.
– MC: I think I half-thank the Minister for that answer, because really he has not done anything, and nor have this Government, to recognise what Parliament has said. By 274 votes to 12 we called for recognition. Some 40% of Labour Friends of Israel voted for that recognition, as did 40 Conservative Members of Parliament. What will it take to get this Government to stand up, do the right thing, get out from under the shadow of the USA and speak for the UK Parliament?
– TB: Well, I ask the hon. Gentleman what is the right thing. We can only use this card once, and we need to use it sensibly. We need to bring parties back to the table. This Government share Parliament’s commitment to recognising a Palestinian state but as a contribution to a negotiated two-state solution. We are in the process of getting people back around the table. That is what John Kerry is committed to, and that is what should happen next.
– Peter Bone: I accept what the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) said about the Back-Bench debate, and I think it was unfortunate that the Government did not ask more Members to be here to express those views. I take the view myself that if we are going to get peace, the overall position is that a recognition of Palestine has to come at the same time as an overall peace agreement. Do the Government agree that that is the best way forward?
– TB: I pay tribute not only to the debate that took place in this Chamber but the debate that took place yesterday called by the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris) and prompted by an e-petition signed by over 100,000 constituents. We do pay attention to these issues. Bilateral recognition would not end the occupation. Without a negotiated settlement, the occupation and the problems that come with it would still continue. That is why, at the stage we are at now, we must invite people back to the table, and I hope this will happen very soon.
– Lisa Nandy: The Minister said that the Government can only play this card once. After the horrific events in Gaza over the summer and the recent violent clashes in the west bank and Jerusalem, will he tell this House how many more children have to die before the Government decide that it is the right time to play the card to give the Palestinian people an equal seat at the negotiating table, and recognise that recognition of the Palestinian state is a contribution to meaningful negotiations and not a consequence of them?
– TB: I hear what the hon. Lady says, but if she had attended yesterday’s debate she would be aware that the whole world is concerned about this. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, has said, “Is this what we do—reconstruct and then it gets destroyed, reconstruct and then it gets destroyed?” We must bring people to the table to make sure that there is a long-term solution to the problems and so that we do not see another Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defence or Operation Protective Edge. That requires both sides to come together, and there is much work to do before Britain is going to be ready to recognise Palestine as a state.
– Richard Burden: Will the Minister consider for a minute how it would sound to a Palestinian to hear him say that recognition of their right to self-determination is a card to be played, any more than how it would sound to an Israeli to say that recognition of Israel is a card to be played? What is he actually doing to talk to European partners to secure recognition and not to put the day off?
– TB: Forgive me if my comment sounded flippant—that was not my intention at all. Anybody who attended the debate yesterday, or indeed the debate that took place in this Chamber, will know of my personal commitment to working with people on both sides. I spent some time in Israel . I visited Gaza and saw the destruction with my own eyes. I should also underline the commitment that Britain is making to the reconstruction; that was outlined when I attended the conference in Cairo . I say again that it is important that given where we are in the process, with John Kerry about to embark on a new round of talks, that is what we should allow to take place at this very moment.
– Jim McGovern: What steps his Department is taking to help bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to peace talks.
– David Mowat: What recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of a two-state solution emerging in the middle east.
– PH: [joint reply] The UK is fully supporting US-led efforts, working with the Egyptians, to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to negotiations aimed at achieving a lasting peace. We are also working with European partners, especially France and Germany , to support that US-led process.
– JM: I thank the Minister for his answer. The point that I want to make was possibly covered earlier, but it is so serious that it is worthy of repetition. Illegal Israeli settlements are causing friction, to say the least, and they are a roadblock in the peace process. What is the Secretary of State doing with his EU counterparts to challenge this and to make sure that there are no roadblocks?
– PH: As I said earlier and have said on previous occasions in the House, the settlements are illegal. We condemn them, and every time a new one is proposed, we make that view known to the Israeli Government. But I have gone further than that, and I repeat today that we have to be clear that we will not allow the fact of illegal settlements to define the shape of an eventual settlement. We cannot allow one of the parties to this conflict to build themselves into a position to dictate the eventual peace. Settlements can be built and settlements can be removed, but every settlement that is built is illegal and it cannot be allowed to stand immovably in the way of the peace process.
– DM: The Secretary of State has talked about the preference for a successful peace process, but actions speak louder than words. The 1,000 acre land grab around Bethlehem in September surely indicates that Israel does not really have the serious intention of allowing a two-state solution. Given that, should we not be thinking about how we are going to recognise Palestine ?
– PH: This is not an excuse, but a great deal of domestic politics is involved in this issue. The 1,000 acres that my hon. Friend mentioned have not, as I understand it, been developed in any way; it was simply a designation. It is unacceptable, but it is a political statement, and we have to make sure that it does not stand in the way of an eventual two-state solution.
– Philip Hollobone: What estimate he has made of the number of rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal in southern Lebanon which could be deployed against Israel ; and what diplomatic efforts his Department is making to seek a reduction in that number.
– TB: We are aware of continued reports of Hezbollah’s arsenal of weapons in southern Lebanon . Those weapons pose a threat to regional security and are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
– Philip Hollobone: Hezbollah’s extensive arsenal contravenes UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701, which call on it to disarm, yet the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon has not stopped the re-arming of Hezbollah and rarely inspects Hezbollah-controlled villages for illicit activity. Given that every Israeli city is now within range of the rockets, will the Minister use his good offices in the UN to ensure that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has the resources it needs to police southern Lebanon effectively?
– TB: My hon. Friend makes an important point. That matter was raised with me during my visit to Israel . We are committed to supporting peace and stability in Lebanon . Since 2012, the UK has been delivering a $31-million programme to train and equip the land border regiments to provide stability. More work needs to be done with the UN and we must ensure that Hezbollah agrees to the UN resolutions.
– Frank Roy: Lebanon’s position in the middle east is being destabilised by the fact that a quarter of the population is made up of Syrian refugees. The United Nations has called for countries throughout the world to resettle at least 130,000 of those refugees. Why have only 90 been allowed into the United Kingdom ?
– TB: As has been made clear before, we feel that it is best that refugees are kept closer to the region so that they can return. The whole House should pay tribute to Lebanon for its work in taking 1.2 million refugees, which, as the hon. Gentleman says, is almost a quarter of its population. The UK Government have provided more than £273 million to help with stability in the area and to support refugees there.
– David Winnick: For nearly half a century, on and off, I have heard Ministers say that they are committed on behalf of the British Government to justice for Palestinians, yet the situation has deteriorated for Palestinians over that time—it is has certainly not improved in any way. Would recognising a Palestinian state not show a genuine commitment on behalf of the United Kingdom that we want justice for Palestinians, as well as ensuring that the state of Israel is secure?
– PH: The hon. Gentleman’s timeline merely serves to underscore how complex, difficult and intractable the problem is. Our commitment to a two-state solution is loudly expressed at every opportunity—no one can be in any doubt about it—but, as the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) has made clear, recognition is a tool to be used in trying to bring about the peace settlement all hon. Members ardently desire.
– Angus Brendan: In this Question Time, Members have mentioned official Palestinian media and TV, and the Palestinian Authority. Effectively, they are talking about the apparatus of a Palestinian state. Surely calls for peace should be heard with equal respect for both Israel and Palestine . Is it not time the UK Government followed this House of Commons and gave recognition to the Palestinian state, which would be the first stage of the two-state solution?
– PH: This is a bit like groundhog day. The Government will recognise a Palestinian state at a time of our choosing. We will choose that time on the basis that it is designed to deliver the maximum possible impetus to the peace process.
Commons Oral Answers
- Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill – debate:
– Pete Wishart: The right hon. Gentleman [ed: Keith Vaz] is, of course, absolutely right about the need for us to engage with communities, but is it not our responsibility to try to understand some of what motivates people to go and do these appalling, dreadful things, such as illegal wars, conflicts in the middle east, and the injustices that they observe in Palestine? Is there a way in which we could try to understand, and perhaps take on, some of the issues that motivate people to become involved in extremist activity?
– Pete Wishart: The hon. Gentleman [ed: Julian Lewis] is making such a powerful speech that I am loth to interrupt him. I am sure that he would appreciate, respect and understand the fact that we, too, have a responsibility for creating some of the conditions that have allowed this dreadful, awful and appalling ideology to take root, through decisions such as those about military adventures in the middle east, injustice in Palestine and illegal wars. In his rounded assessment, surely he should also look at our responsibility for allowing this to happen.
Commons Oral Answers
- Kevin Barron: What steps is FCO taking to help bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to peace talks?
Commons Written Answers
Monday 1st December
On Monday 1st December there was a debate in Parliament relating to the e-petition calling for an end to the conflict in Palestine. The debate proposer was Grahame M Morris MP.
Apart from the 28 main speakers listed below, interventions were also made by: Ian Murray, Tom Clarke, Sandra Osborne, Mark Lazarowicz, Debbie Abrahams, John McDonnell, Andrew Smith, Duncan Hames, Lee Scott, Angela Watkinson, Jason McCartney.
The main speakers on Hansard video:
Grahame M Morris speech @ 00:35
Robert Halfon @ 33:10
George Galloway @ 37:36
Sir Alan Duncan @ 43:10
Sir Gerald Kaufman @ 50:05
Alistair Burt @ 55:25
Anas Sarwar @ 1:01:00
Mike Hancock @ 1:06:10
Roger Godsiff @ 1:11:20
Karl McCartney @ 1:18:08
Michael McCann @ 1:23:52
Pauline Latham @ 1:29:15
Ian Austin @ 1:34:55
Martin Horwood @ 1:38:57
Hywel Williams @ 1:45:12
David Ward @ 1:49:25
Paul Blomfield @ 1:53:38
Guto Bebb @ 1:57:37
Mark Durkan @ 2:00:38
Philip Hollobone @ 2:05:10
Jeremy Corbyn @ 2:09:53
Richard Graham @ 2:15:30
Alex Cunningham @ 2:21:00
Khalid Mahmood @ 2:23:50
Andy McDonald @ 2:26:58
Chi Onwurah @ 2:29:52
Sitting was suspended for Divisions in the House, after which the summing up speeches were made by:
Gareth Thomas for the Opposition @ 3:23:35
Tobias Ellwood for the Government @ 3:35:31
Grahame M Morris winding up @ 3:51:01
- HoC Arms Export Controls Committee. Read more>
- Alex Cunningham: What steps is the Government is taking to ensure that a Gaza donor conference takes place in the near future; and what additional steps has DfID Secretary taken to (a) provide support for Palestinian children and (b) raise the importance of such support with her international counterparts?
Commons Written Answers
- Lord Turnberg: What assessment have HMG made of the number of patients from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria who are being treated in Israeli hospitals?
- Lord Hylton: What representations are HMG making to the government of Israel about the renewed practice of demolishing Palestinian homes?
- Lord Turnberg: What discussions have HMG had with the PA leadership about the killing of Israeli worshippers in a synagogue in West Jerusalem on 18 November?
- Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the loss to the Palestinian economy each year through the destruction of olive trees, and do they have any plans to ensure that such losses will be repaired?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations will HMG make to the government of Israel in respect of the funding of continuing healthcare in Gaza when the UK ceases its funding in February?
- Lord Turnberg: What discussions have HMG had with the PA leadership about incitement to violence in Palestinian media?
- Lord Turnberg: What assessment have HMG made of the smuggling of arms into Gaza from the sea?
- Lord Hylton: Will HMG ask the government of Egypt when the Rafah crossing point at the buffer zone adjoining the Gaza strip will be reopened?
Nos 4-11 Lords Written Answers