MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 2014
- Backbench Debate: “Palestine And Israel”
“That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel“ – proposed by Grahame M Morris. A manuscript amendment, adding to the motion the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”, was tabled that morning in the name of Jack Straw and Sir Alan Duncan, was the one selected by the Speaker. The Guto Bebb amendment, which said recognition should be granted only after the conclusion of peace negotiations was rejected. Guto Bebb did not attend the debate.
At the end of the debate the ‘no’ campaign tried cynically to avoid a full vote by declining to put up tellers, whereby the ‘division’ (a formal vote in the House of Commons) would have been cancelled. But ‘yes’ campaigners felt it was important that votes were counted so two Palestine supporters, Jeremy Corbyn and Mike Wood, agreed to be tellers for the ‘no’ lobby. As Jeremy Corbyn explained after the vote on the amended motion, “It was to ensure that democracy could take place and that Members could record their vote”.
It was an extremely lively debate with many passionate and some dramatic speeches. There was overwhelming agreement that although the resulting vote [274 in favour, 12 against] would only be symbolic, it was morally the right thing to do, to show that Britain was at last living up to its historic responsibility as the originator of the Balfour declaration and holder of the mandate for Palestine. Nearly all the pro-recognition speeches were accompanied with shouts of hear, hear, while those opposed were met with sounds of scepticism and even derision.
There were many interventions including by MPs not called to speak and hence not listed above. Of the 44 speakers – not counting the Minister, Tobias Ellwood, only the following spoke against the motion: Malcolm Rifkind [did not vote]; Louise Ellman [did not vote]; James Clappison [did not vote]; Matthew Offord [voted against]; Ian Paisley [voted against]; Robert Halfon [did not vote]; Robert Jenrick [did not vote].
The following spoke in the debate:
Grahame M Morris, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Richard Burden, Sir Richard Ottaway, Louise Ellman, Sir Alan Duncan, Jack Straw, James Clappison, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Sir Nicholas Soames, Mike Wood, David Ward, Anas Sarwar, Dr Matthew Offord,
Andrew Love, Sir Hugh Robertson, Ian Paisley, Tobias Ellwood, Ian Lucas, Mike Hancock, Julie Elliott, Peter Lilley, Andy McDonald, Andrew Stephenson, Andy Slaughter, Robert Halfon, Sarah Champion, Bob Stewart, Stewart Hosie, Andrew Griffiths, Lyn Brown, Robert Jenrick, Jonathan Ashworth, Sir Edward Leigh, Mark Durkan, Martin Horwood, Sandra Osborne, Crispin Blunt, Diane Abbott, Lisa Nandy,
For the way they voted scroll down to the end of the debate>
Hansard video: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=16013 @ 3:10:24
- Petition: Palestinian water rights: The Petition of a resident of the UK, presented by Tim Farron MP, declares that the Petitioner believes that the Government of Israel is not respecting the human rights of the Palestinian people by failing to ensure that they have an adequate water supply.
The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the Government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people to adequate water supply.
Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, received 7 October 2014:
I understand and sympathise with those who have signed this petition. I share their concerns regarding the situation of an adequate water supply for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
The UK raises issues of water in the OPTs with the Israeli authorities, we last raised this issue with Israeli Ministry of Defence officials from the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Unit on 22 April. We continue to stress the urgent need for Israel to take immediate and practical measures to improve the current unacceptable situation and ensure fair distribution of water in the West Bank and Gaza. The UK does not directly fund water projects in the OPTs since a large number of organisations already work on water and sanitation issues. However, UK support to the EU contributes to EU-funded projects in the water, sanitation and basic infrastructure sector.
There is a huge disparity in the way that resources are allocated, as Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have seen during their visits to the region. For example, while an average Israeli settler uses 242 litres of water a day, an average Palestinian can only use 75 litres a day.
The fair and effective distribution of shared water resources across the Middle East is of great concern to us. These resources are limited and therefore require the effective co-operation from all parties to manage them in such a manner that ensures there will be enough for all.
Although this issue transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is essential that Israel and the Palestinians discuss this issue and ensure that there is a just solution on shared water resources as part of any final status agreement.
- Marquess of Lothian: What representations have HMG made and intend to make to Israel about the full lifting of the blockade on Gaza?
- Baroness Tonge: How many Watchkeeper drones have HMG ordered from Elbit Systems, and when do they expect the order to be completed?
Nos 3-4 Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 14 OCTOBER 2014
- Backbench Business Committee Chair Natascha Engel suggested the Committee could consider the e-petition “End the Conflict in Palestine”, which had reached 100,000 signatures [124,468 in fact – see http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67165and see below]. She suggests that as no one has so far come forward to request a debate on it, Members may be oblivious of the fact that this e-petition has reached 100,000 signatures. She says the Committee would have to look out for sponsoring members, to which end they will include it in their weekly email. At one point she asks whether it could be said that “the debate last night [13 October backbench debate on recognising Palestine] covered this”. An unidentified Committee member replies: “Not really, no, as it was about a single issue, statehood, rather than the actual conflict itself.”
- At the Gymnich meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on 29-30 August in Milan, Baroness Ashton argued that the EU had been an important player throughout her tenure, supporting John Kerry, engaging with Egypt, Israel and the Palestinians. She also informed Ministers that she would co-chair the 1 October donors’ conference in Cairo. Ministers agreed that the ceasefire – on which the Egyptian role had been pivotal – should develop into a durable agreement, and there was general consensus that this should combine demilitarisation and reconstruction with international oversight (where the EU could play an important role). David Lidington underlined the important role that the UNSC should play and argued that the EU should support a durable agreement, including through the reactivation of EUBAM Rafah under the appropriate circumstances. He urged the European External Action Service (EEAS) to follow up on work to put forward EU options for supporting a ceasefire.
Lords Written Answers
THE E-PETITION: END THE CONFLICT IN PALESTINE
Responsible department: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
“This petition aims to end the horrific ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. We want the government to take notice of this issue and move towards helping to solve the problem. As the UK government is part of the G8 it is vital that they work towards a peace treaty in the Middle East in order to help save lives and build a sustainable community.
As a human being it is your responsibility to take part in looking after world relations and this petition aims to ensure that the government is doing all it can to help address the problems between Israel and Palestine.
The conflict has now taken another life of a child who was burnt alive how can this be allowed to continue? How many more children have to die before something is done?
Forget culture, nationality of religion & please act in the name of humanity.”
As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:
The British Government has made clear that it was appalled by the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli and one Palestinian teenager and that those responsible should be held to account.
With regards to the current situation in Gaza, the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on 21 July that the UK shares the grave concern of many in the international community about the heavy toll of civilian casualties. We have condemned Hamas’ refusal to end their rocket attacks, despite all international efforts to broker a ceasefire. The UK support Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself from them. But the Prime Minister has urged restraint, asked Israel to do everything it can to avoid civilian casualties, and to help find ways to bring this situation to an end.
The UK has three objectives – to secure a ceasefire, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to keep alive the prospects for peace negotiations which are the only hope of breaking this cycle of violence and devastation once and for all. In all of these areas, the UK will play its role, working closely with the US and International partners. As the Prime Minister has said, the loss of life is absolutely heartbreaking and appalling. The Prime Minister has called for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire. We need urgently to stop the bloodshed, re-impose a cease-fire and work to find a longer term solution.
We are also extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. That is why we have decided to provide more than £15m in emergency assistance to help tens of thousands of Palestinians affected. On 4 August the Secretary of State for International Development announced £2 million in new funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency’s Flash Appeal. This will help the UN provide a package of essential goods to the thousands of families sheltering in schools. In total, we have now pledged 6 million to UNRWA’s appeal. On 1 August DFID activated the Rapid Response Facility for Gaza. This means pre-approved partners with a proven ability to operate in Gaza will now have access to a total of £3 million in new funding to provide rapid and direct emergency humanitarian assistance. We are also providing £3 million to the World Food Programme to provide food vouchers. This boost will provide emergency food vouchers for more than 300,000 people for one month. Finally we have brought forward £3m in funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help them repair water infrastructure, deliver emergency medical services and protect the civilian population. But we are clear that a political solution is required to the current crisis in Gaza if we are to avoid this suffering happening again. I can assure you all UK effort is focused to that end.
(Published as of 5th August – A further updated response may be provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as necessary)
This e-petition has now passed the threshold of 100 000 signatures. The Leader of the House of Commons has written to the Backbench Business Committee, who are responsible for the scheduling of debates on e-petitions informing them that the petition has reached 100 000 signatures.
The Backbench Business Committee meets weekly, when the House of Commons is sitting, to hear representations from MPs for debates in backbench time. The Committee can consider any subject for debate, including those raised in e-petitions, but an MP must make the case for their consideration. More information about the Committee is available on its website http://www.parliament.uk/bbcom
WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER 2014
Following the debate to recognise Parliament, David Ward MP took the opportunity to press the Prime Minister on the issue:
– David Ward: [verbatim] The Palestinian ambassador, Mr Hassassian, has described Monday’s vote on the recognition of the Palestinian state as “a momentous vote”. Indeed it was. He has also said: “Now is the time for the UK government to listen to its democratically elected parliament and to take decisive political action by recognising the State of Palestine and upholding its historical, moral and legal responsibility towards Palestine”.Does the Prime Minister agree?”
– David Cameron: [verbatim] Of course, I look forward to the day when Britain will recognise the state of Palestine, but it should be part of the negotiations that bring about a two-state solution. That is what we all want to see—a state of Israel living happily and peacefully alongside a state of Palestine—and that is when we should do the recognition.
Commons Oral Answers
WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER 2014
Question Asked by Baroness Warsi: What is HMG’s position on the recognition of Palestine as a state?
– Baroness Anelay: “The UK is committed to seeing an independent Palestinian state. We will recognise a Palestinian state at a time of our choosing, when we think it can best bring about peace. A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to meet Palestinian aspirations on the ground.”
– Baroness Warsi: “Could the Minister detail the specific conditions or criteria that would need to be met for this Government to recognise the state of Palestine? What is the Government’s response to the overwhelming vote for recognition that we saw in the House of Commons on Monday?”
– BA: “My noble friend referred to the debate on Monday which caught the attention not only of this country but of the countries in the Middle East. The vote showed that Parliament considers the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict urgent. We agree with that. The issue is and will remain a foreign policy priority for the UK, but, as I said, we need to judge when it is right to take that decision. What we need to do is to find a negotiated end to the occupation. That is the most effective way of proceeding. My noble friend asked about criteria. Clearly, you judge criteria on a fluid system. You watch, you wait and you encourage the Middle East process to continue—and one does not give up.”
– Baroness Ramsay: “Does the Minister agree with me that a premature and unilateral declaration of recognition would not only not aid the peace process in the Middle East towards a two-state solution but would in fact appear to be rewarding Hamas, which is a terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel and rains thousands of rockets down on her civilian population?”
– BA: I entirely agree.
– Lord Alderdice: “Do Her Majesty’s Government understand that many people not just in the region but in this country and, increasingly, in Israel itself believe that the only way to save a two-state solution, if it is not already too late, is to recognise a Palestinian state immediately, and that without that Her Majesty’s Government unintentionally may be contributing to the intractability of the problem rather than its resolution by giving a veto to one side through their policy on recognition?”
– BA: “I understand my noble friend’s strength of feeling. I also understand that there is a lot of public concern and, indeed, more than interest—rather, engagement—in all of this. However, one has to say that the Middle East process itself has not failed; it proceeds. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas continue to say that they are committed to a two-state solution. That is the way forward, whereas this country recognising Palestine now would not achieve anything. It would not remove the occupation or give everyone the opportunity to do what we need to do now, which is to focus on the people of Gaza and the rebuilding of it.”
– Baroness Deech: “Does the Minister acknowledge that if a state of Palestine were to be recognised, the Palestinian residents within it would cease to be refugees, that those Palestinians living in other countries would have a right of return and would also cease to be refugees, and that there would be no more call for UNRWA and the refugee problem would be ended?
– BA: “The noble Baroness makes an interesting point, but it would depend on the way in which the future state were created, so I think that there is more complexity to the issue than she raised.”
– Lord Grocott: “Various references to the problem of recognising a Palestinian state indicated that it would somehow inhibit the peace process. I ask: what peace process? What achievements can be chalked up to this alleged peace process? All we have seen from the process over the past 50 years is a continued diminution of the prospect of a Palestinian state because of the constant settlement activity in violation of all international law which the Israeli Government seem to be able to pursue with impunity.”
– BA: “The developments with regard to settlements clearly have lost Israel many of its friends and it has a duty to rebuild trust by looking again at its policy on settlements. However, I do not agree with the noble Lord that we should give up hope on the Middle East peace process. As I said in answer to another noble Lord, the two main actors in this process wish to be engaged in it and will be engaged in it—and we will encourage them to do that.”
– Baroness Eaton: “Given the fact that Arab citizens, together with members of all religions, are free to live in the state of Israel, does the Minister agree that the same must be the case in a Palestinian state in which all members of society, no matter what their race or religion, should be afforded absolutely equal rights in order to practise their respective faiths without any fear of persecution?”
– BA: “One of the six priorities of the FCO is to have freedom of religion or belief, so I can say to my noble friend: yes.”
THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2014
- Foreign Secretary to attend FAC in Luxembourg on 20 October. It will be chaired by Baroness Ashton. Ministers will discuss recent developments in the MEPP. “The UK will emphasise the importance of addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and press for the EU to make a substantive contribution to this effort. The UK will also call for Member States to continue pressing for a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In that regard, the EU should send a clear message expressing its concern at Israel’s recent settlement activity.”Read more>
Commons Written Statements
- Questions to Leader of the House:
– Sandra Osborne: “Earlier in the week Members on both sides of the House voted by a huge majority in favour of UK recognition of Palestine as a state. What is the point of these Backbench Business debates if the Government simply pay lip service to them?”
– William Hague: “I do not think anybody taking part in the debate was under the impression that it was binding on the Government, but the House of Commons certainly passed a resolution and had a full debate. As the hon. Lady knows, it is our policy to recognise a Palestinian state at a moment when it can make a contribution to peace, including through a two-state solution and the creation of a viable sovereign Palestinian state. That remains the position of Her Majesty’s Government.”
Commons Oral Answers
COMMONS WRITTEN ANSWERS FOR TUESDAY 14 OCTOBER 2014
- Tom Watson: Pursuant to the Answer of 10 July 2014, is there a designated UK officer at Creech airbase responsible for ensuring that embedded UK officers comply with Joint Services Publication 398? [Mark Francois: “Yes.”]
- John Hemming: With reference to the Answer of 17 March 2014, will FCO respond in writing to the final report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism dated 28 February 2014 by the Human Rights Council expert meeting on 22 September 2014 concerning the use of armed drones?
COMMONS WRITTEN ANSWERS FOR WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER 2014
- Jeremy Corbyn: What export licences for defence and strategic equipment to Israel (a) were applied for, (b) were granted and (c) are still being considered by BIS for (i) 2011-12, (ii) 2012-13, (iii) 2013-14 and (iv) 2014-15 to date?
- Martin Horwood: What recent discussions has FCO had with the government of Israel about potential breaches of international law by that country?
- Martin Horwood: What representations has FCO made to the Israeli government following the announcement of further settlement building on Palestinian land in the West Bank? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-26/209579
- Martin Horwood: What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with EU counterparts following the Israeli government’s announcement of further settlement building on Palestinian land in the West Bank? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-26/209580
- Jim Cunningham: What representations has Foreign Secretary received on the arrest and trial of Ali Shamlawi, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf, and Tamer Souf, Palestinian boys from Hares who are in Israeli custody? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/210022
- Jim Cunningham: What recent discussions has Foreign Secretary had with the Israeli government on allegations of torture of five Palestinian boys from Hares who have been in Israeli custody since March 2013? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/210023
- Jim Cunningham: Will the Foreign Secretary make enquiries with the Israeli government about the current status, treatment and trial of five Palestinian boys from Hares who have been in Israeli custody since March 2013?
- Chi Onwurah: Which UK police forces have (a) provided and (b) received training from Israeli police or security services in each of the last five years; and what that training consisted of in each such case? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-26/209808
COMMONS WRITTEN ANSWERS FOR THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2014
- Chi Onwurah: What reports has Foreign Secretary received about discrimination faced by British Muslims on entering and exiting Israel? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-13/210278
- Alex Cunningham: What discussions has DfID had with the co-hosts of the Gaza donor conference?
- Alex Cunningham: What aid commitments does DfID intend to make at the Gaza donor conference? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-12/209154
- Alex Cunningham: Is DfID’s provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza contingent on progress in the peace process between Israelis and the Palestinians?
COMMONS WRITTEN ANSWERS FOR FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014
- Anne Main: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the effectiveness of the EU-Israel Association Agreement on the degree to which human rights are respected in Israel?
- Simon Kirby: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to help protect Israeli citizens from rocket fire originating in Gaza; and will he make a statement?
- Fiona Mactaggart: What response has the Israeli government made to (a) the Foreign Secretary and (b) his EU counterparts to their condemnations of the recent expropriation of land near Etzion and Bethlehem in the OPTs? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/209869
- Fiona Mactaggart: What steps does Foreign Secretary plan to take either unilaterally or with other EU states in response to Israel’s refusal to reverse its most recent expropriation of land near Etzion and Bethlehem? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/209872
- Caroline Lucas: With reference to the FCO Press Release of 3 October 2014, entitled ‘UK deplores Israel government settlement decision‘, what response has he received from his counterpart in the Israeli government on his statement deploring the Israeli government’s decision to advance plans for the 2,610 settlement units in Givat Hamatos? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/209951
- Anne Main: Pursuant to the Answer of 12 September 2014, what further representations has Foreign Secretary made to Israel on the expropriation of land near Bethlehem since 7 September 2014? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/210010
- Fiona Mactaggart: What progress has been made to date on lifting the blockade of Gaza? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/209870
- Fiona Mactaggart: What representations has Foreign Secretary made to the Israel on plans to transfer 12,500 Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida Palestinian Bedouin from Area C East of Jerusalem to a new urban extension of Jericho? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/209871
- Roger Godsiff: What assessment is carried out of the risk of tear gas being used for internal repression before an export licence is granted? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-10/210025