On Tuesday – the day of the Israeli General Election – MPs challenged William Hague for actions not words during the monthly Foreign Office Questions. William Hague said the UK expressed “profound concern that Israel’s settlement policy is losing it the support of the international community and will make a two-state solution impossible”.
Despite this the Foreign Secretary revealed his strategy is still dependent on a ‘major initiative’ from an apparently reluctant USA. Labour’s Frontbench asked if Israel’s wish for increased trade with the EU could be used as a lever, to which William Hague answered that this too relies on uncertain US peace plan, but he would then consider and that “the incentives and disincentives” needed to support the US strategy.
Plus, in a sign that even Israel’s most ardent supporters want to see an end to Israel’s intransigence Conservative Bob Blackman MP asked what William Hague was going to do about settlements to ensure ‘there is a just and peaceful solution’
THURSDAY 24 JANUARY 2013
– Lord Ramsbotham: Hopes US President will take active lead on Iran’s intentions, “conscious that….. Israel’s position remains crucial”.
– Lord Bramall: Nuclear deterrent did not stop Saddam Hussein firing missiles into Israel.
– Lord King of Bridgwater: CIA assesses that Israel has 300 to 400 warheads; could it decide to make use of them post-elections?
– Lord Judd: The issues of Iran and Israel make nuclear disarmament urgent.
3. EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: Lord McNally, Minister of State, reports on informal JHA Council in Dublin on 17 and 18 January, where Ministers were updated i.a. on the Bourgas bus attack that killed five Israeli tourists. “The UK highlighted that if the Bulgarian evidence suggested the military wing of Hizballah was behind the attack, the EU must consider the designation of Hizballah’s military wing under the EU’s common position 931 terrorist asset-freezing regime.”
Lords Written Statements
4. Lord Stoddart of Swindon: What measures are available to persuade Israel to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)?
Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY 2013
1. Matthew Offord: What is Foreign Secretary’s assessment of Iran’s involvement with terrorist proxies? [Alistair Burt: We have serious concerns about Iran’s support for i.a.”Palestinian rejectionist groups such as P1J and Hamas”] (Commons Written Answers)
2. Matthew Offord: What is Foreign Secretary’s assessment of security situation in Sinai?
3. Matthew Offord: What is Foreign Secretary’s assessment of progress in ME peace process?
Nos 2-3 (Commons Written Answers)
– Lord Watson of Invergowrie likens Kashmir to Palestine’s “territorial dispute”.
– Lord Desai: Kashmir is like the “endless dispute” between Israel and Palestine, “which goes on and there is nothing much that the UN can do about it”.
5. Lord Hylton: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning (1) recent visit of its PM to Rechelin, (2) spraying of “skunk liquid” by IDF onto inhabited houses in Nabi Saleh on 4 January, (3) attacks on Psalmist mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on 10 January, (4) raid by settlers on Qusra on 6 January and subsequent IDF intervention?
6. Baroness Tonge: Will HMG provide support to E1 tented city?
7. Baroness Tonge: What research have HMG conducted into impact on WB humanitarian situation of “firing zones” set up by the Israeli military?
Nos 5-7 (Lords Written Answers)
TUESDAY 22 JANUARY 2013
1. Questions to the Foreign Secretary
– Andrew Love: What reports has he received on political situation in OPTs and what discussions has he had with EU partners about diplomatic options? [William Hague: I will discuss these in Washington next week; we continue to monitor WB protests and Fatah-Hamas reconciliation; we call on Israel to release PA’s revenues]
– Robert Halfon: Isn’t the supply of weapons and funding of Hamas a significant barrier to peace? [WH: Yes]
– Anas Sarwar: Did Arab League Gen-Sec indicate that one of his members would host peace talks? [WH: Like us, the Arab League also looks to US to launch major initiative]
– Menzies Campbell: Can two-state solution on 1967 borders ever be achieved? [WH: I hope new Israeli government will realise chances are running out]
– Douglas Alexander: Can he give more detail about this major US initiative? [WH: US in unique position to bring Israel in to 2-s-s; I will tell new US personnel that this must be their top priority]
– Crispin Blunt: Is it time for Quartet to change its strategy from economics to politics? [WH: Even so, we must continue DfID support of PA, and Israel must release revenues]
(Commons FCO Questions)
– Gregg McClymont: Was the UN vote a positive or negative step? [WH: The Israeli reaction which we feared has happened]
– Bob Blackman: Today’s elections will have a significant effect; what will you do about settlement building? [WH: We must make progress this year]
– Gerald Kaufman: Four innocent Palestinians, including a boy of 17, were murdered last week; Netanyahu said if re-elected he will not negotiate on ’67 borders. How will HMG get Israelis to see their survival depends on a 2-s-s? [WH: We will continue to put that case very strongly; views in Israel are divided]
– Duncan Hames: What would be consequences if Israel extended separation barrier around E1, given the segregation measures which I and other MPs witnessed last month? [WH: It would have disastrous consequences]
– Ian Lucas: Will he discuss a coordinated response with EU partners and use Israel’s wish for stronger trading relations as a means to achieve progress? [FS: Providing there is a major US initiative, we will have to work out “the incentives and disincentives” we can create in to support it]
(Commons FCO Questions)
– Louise Ellman: Will he renew his efforts to persuade Europe to proscribe Hezbollah given its responsibility for Burgas attack? [WH: We will be pursuing this over coming days]
– Philip Hollobone: In view of recently discovered remarks by President Morsi, how does HMG assess his potential to play a role in peace process? [WH: We judge him by his actions in office]
– Jeremy Corbyn: What are HMG doing to ensure that ME nuclear weapon free zone conference takes place? [Alistair Burt: It is our intention to continue to press for this]
(Commons FCO Topical Questions)
2. John Baron: what assessment the Foreign Office has made of the potential consequences of the outcome of the Israeli elections on relations between Iran and Israel. (Commons Written Answer)
3. Sir Tony Baldry: Foreign Office assessment of situation of Christians in the Middle East? (Commons Written Answer)
4. Huw Irranca-Davies: What recent steps has FCO taken to persuade Israel to cease settlement expansion? (Commons Written Answer)
MONDAY 21 JANUARY 2013
Lord Warner challenges the Government for allowing Israeli settlers who live in illegally in the occupied Palestinian territories to visit the UK freely whilst requiring Palestinians living there to apply for a visa. Plus, Lyn Brown MP tackles the Foreign Secretary on child prisoners.
1. Lyn Brown: Has Foreign Secretary raised concerns about child prisoners with the Israeli Government since May 2010?
2. Lyn Brown: How many times has Foreign Secretary met the Israeli Foreign Secretary in the last year?
Nos 1-2 (Commons, Written Answers)
3. Nicholas Soames: What discussions has Foreign Secretary had with his EU counterparts on possible imposition of sanctions against Israel?
4. Nicholas Soames: What response has Foreign Secretary made to Israel’s recent decision to extend construction of new settlements?
Nos 3-4 (Commons, Written Answers)
5. Mr Hollobone: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of attempts at political reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah? (Commons Written Answer)
6. Lord Wright: If we are to confront Islamic extremism we should work towards a just and permanent peace settlement for the Palestinians. (Lords Debate)
7. Lord Warner: How many visas were granted and refused to Palestinians living in the OPTs and what are HMG’s reasons for applying different requirements to Israeli citizens?
8. Lord Warner: Why are those Israeli citizens who have breached international law by building illegal settlements allowed visa-free access to the UK and how does HMG ensure that they do not pose a threat to UK security?
Nos 7-8 (Lords Written Answers)