THURSDAY 17 DECEMBER 2015
- Prime Minister’s Written Statement: Muslim Brotherhood Review:
– Individuals closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK have supported suicide bombing and other attacks in Israel by Hamas, an organisation whose military wing has been proscribed in the UK since 2001 as a terrorist organisation, and which describes itself as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood……….. Muslim Brotherhood-associated and influenced groups in the UK have at times had a significant influence on national organisations which have claimed to represent Muslim communities—and on that basis have had a dialogue with Government—charities and some mosques. But they have also sometimes characterised the UK as fundamentally hostile to Muslim faith and identity; and expressed support for terrorist attacks conducted by Hamas……… We will continue to: refuse visas to members and associates of the Muslim Brotherhood who are on record as having made extremist comments, where this would be conducive to the public good and in line with our existing policy guidelines and approach to extremism in all forms; seek to ensure charities that have links to the Muslim Brotherhood are not misused to support or finance the Muslim Brotherhood instead of their lawful charitable purpose; strengthen liaison arrangements with international partners to ensure that allegations of illicit funding or other misuse of charities are robustly investigated and appropriate action taken; enforce the EU asset freeze on Hamas; and keep under review whether the views and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood meet the legal test for proscription. We will also intensify scrutiny of the views and activities that Muslim Brotherhood members, associates and affiliates—whether based in the UK or elsewhere—promote overseas. (edited extract)
Commons Written Statements
- Business of the House:
– Chris Bryant: It is Christmas time—well, Advent—but Christmas is not as snug as it might seem in the adverts or carols. Jerusalem does not lie still. Not the hopes but the fears of all the years are met in her tonight and every night. (extract)
Commons Oral Answers
WEDNESDAY 16 DECEMBER 2015
- Questions to the DfID Secretary:
– John Howell: How her Department monitors outcomes of its spending in the Palestinian territories.
– Justine Greening: I would first like to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) for all the work he did during his time in the Department, and also to welcome the new Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd) who I know will continue in the footsteps of my right hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield.
The Department for International Development provides assistance and support to poor and vulnerable Palestinians, as well as supporting state building and economic development. Our operational plan for the Occupied Palestinian Territories contains a results framework that is monitored quarterly.
– John Howell: I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
The Prime Minister has been clear that Palestinian incitement will not be tolerated. As many as 25 Palestinian Authority schools are named after Palestinian terrorists, including Dalal Mughrabi, who killed 37 Israeli citizens. Will the Secretary of State assure me that no British aid goes towards such schools or to support the glorification of terrorism?
– JG: The Prime Minister and I have been very clear that the UK deplores incitement on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We monitor any allegations of incitement closely and raise instances with both the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities. Regarding the UK’s direct financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which provides civil service salaries, it goes only to approved individuals through a World Bank trust fund that has an independent audit.
– Stephen Twigg: Palestinian refugees from Syria are suffering enormously—both those within Syria and those who have fled the country. What more can we do and what more can DFID do to ensure that the vital work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has secure funding for the long term?
– JG: I had the chance to meet the head of the UNRWA only last week with the Minister of State, Department for International Development, my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Mr Swayne), and we discussed the need to ensure that its funding is sustained. UNRWA does critical work, and in the context of the need to improve the international response to more protracted crises, we can learn a great deal from its work with Palestinian refugees.
– Peter Bone: Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be better if money was put into direct projects rather than through third-party organisations when we cannot really be sure of the outcome?
– JG: I hope I can reassure my hon. Friend that the agencies and organisations with which we work are ones in respect of which we know we can achieve value for money and results on the ground. He knows that I am passionate about being an aid disciplinarian and making sure that we get value for money. Critically, though, we have to work with the organisations that are there. We have a multilateral aid review under way to make sure that improvements in value for money continue progressively over time.
– Richard Burden: Surely the Secretary of State will be aware of the guidance on the Foreign Office website, which warns UK companies thinking of investing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the “legal and economic risks” if they engage in
“financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements and other economic activities in Israeli settlements or benefitting Israeli settlements”
because of the illegal nature of those settlements and their being an obstacle to peace. Does the right hon. Lady therefore agree that it is perfectly reasonable for both public and private institutions to pay due regard to that advice when they make their own investment and procurement decisions?
– JG: They should do that; that is good Foreign Office advice. We have been very clear that we deplore illegal settlements, because they take us further away from a two-state solution and peace in that part of the world, when we need to be taking what could be final steps and final chances to reach a two-state solution.
– Diane Abbott: We welcome the hon. Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd) to his new Front-Bench position, and on this side we will claim the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) as our first scalp.
Given the worsening situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, how does the Secretary of State justify the decreasing funding to organisations such as UNRWA?
– JG: I do not recognise that statement. The United Kingdom has played a leading role in making sure that we get support to vulnerable Palestinians, not only in Gaza but on the west bank. For example, the Materials Monitoring Unit has helped to support the Gaza reconstruction mechanism. I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware of all that, and it would be helpful to have her support for it.
– Simon Danczuk: What information her Department holds on the level of youth unemployment in Gaza; and if she will make a statement.
– Desmond Swayne: Gaza has the highest unemployment in the world. The World Bank estimates that youth unemployment had reached 60% by the end of 2014. Extensive restrictions inhibit employment. The UK continues to promote economic development and private sector-led growth.
-Simon Danczuk: Gaza still faces restrictions on access to 35% of its agricultural land and 85% of its fishable waters, and Gazans are rarely allowed to travel outside their territory. Until such restrictions are removed, DFID will continue to work with one hand tied behind its back. Does the Minister not agree that the real problem is the blockade of Gaza?
– DS: As I said, the restrictions inhibit employment, but we will not give up. We have a programme for economic development, and it is making progress—slow and frustrating progress, but progress none the less.
– David Winnick: Can we make it absolutely clear that supporting the Palestinian people has nothing whatever to do with anti-Semitism? I wanted to clarify that at the outset.
Does the Minister not agree that the appalling situation in Gaza—and he has given us the figures—shows the need for the developed democracies to do far more? What hope can there be for the Palestinian people when they are faced with so little hope of obtaining jobs and having a decent life? Should we not be far more concerned with the Palestinian tragedy than we are?
– DS: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We do everything that we can diplomatically to raise the sights of the world community, and we will continue to do so.
– Bob Blackman: Does my hon. Friend not agree that the ill-considered, short-sighted campaign for boycotts and disinvestment is actually leading to more unemployment among the Palestinian people?
– DS: The problem faced by Gaza is restrictions, and the extension of restriction by any means is a block to peace.
– Alex Cunningham: What assessment she has made of the quality and availability of water and sanitation facilities in Gaza.
– DS: That is completely inadequate. Demand exceeds supply by a factor of four, and 96% of the extracted water fails World Health Organisation safety standards.
– Alex Cunningham: It is a terrible situation. Twenty-six per cent. of all diseases in Gaza ranging from respiratory and gastric to skin and eye diseases are directly associated with the poor water supply. Clean water is limited to 70 litres per person a day and that figure will fall drastically over the coming years. According to the UN, the underground coastal aquifer will become unusable by 2016. What can be done about that, or is it just a case of lifting the Israeli blockade and getting on with life?
– DS: We are currently spending some €600,000 on a project to assist with desalination. Funds are available through our climate change fund for a long-term solution to this problem, but the level of investment and the marshalling of the factors of production will require a long-term peace process to be viable.
– Michael Fabricant: The hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) speaks about the blockade, but surely if they did not embrace Hamas and continually fire rockets into Israel, there would not need to be a blockade in the first place.
– DS: We work continually with both sides to ease the economic conditions and to bring about a settlement.
Commons Oral Answers
- Daesh: Syria/Iraq: Foreign Secretary delivers Statement:
– Diana Johnson: I begin by passing on the apologies of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), the shadow Foreign Secretary, who is unable to respond to the statement because he is visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel. (extract)
- Daesh in Syria and Iraq: Foreign Secretary’s Statement read by Baroness Anelay:
– Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The worsening situation in the occupied West Bank is a matter of concern which could worsen further and continues to act as a recruiting rationale for confused young men in all sorts of countries to join ISIS. We need a broad approach. (extract)
- Lord Hylton: Do HMG have any plans to discuss with the government of Egypt the risk of salt-water infiltration into the agricultural land of the Gaza Strip resulting from the newly-constructed anti-tunnel canal?
- Lord Kilclooney: Will the EU guidelines for labelling products made in Israeli settlements apply in the UK, and if so, what are the implications for future meetings between the Ambassador of the UK to Israel and representatives of the government of Israel?
- Baroness Tonge: What action do HMG plan to take following the announcement that the government of Israel is to end its diplomatic links with the EU?
- Baroness Tonge: Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 17 November (HL3625), what representations are HMG making to the government of Israel regarding the identification of the ages of Palestinian children prior to their arrest and detention?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel regarding its intention to close the Palestinian theatre in Jerusalem?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel concerning the detention and interrogation of a six year-old boy in Bethlehem?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel following a report by Rabbis for Human Rights that young Jewish settlers from Yitzhar were calling for Palestinians to be burned alive?
- Lord Hylton: In the light of the number of Palestinian civilians, including children, killed in the Occupied Territories by Israeli Forces and by settlers, will HMG call on the government of Israel to review its policy on the use of lethal force and to eliminate all impunity for the use of excessive force?
- Lord Hylton: Have HMG discussed, or have they any plans to discuss, with the government of Israel, the impact of exit permit restrictions on inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank who seek medical treatment elsewhere?
Nos 4-12 Lords Written Answers
MONDAY 14 DECEMBER 2015
1. Tania Mathias: What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with his counterpart in the government of Saudi Arabia on the death sentence for Ashraf Fayadh?
2. Mike Kane: Will the DfID Secretary take steps to improve access to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?
Nos 1-2 Commons Written Answers
3. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel concerning the right of Palestinians to education?
Lords Written Answers