In Foreign Office Questions William Hague was pressed yet again on settlement goods. When it was put to him by Richard Burden MP that excluding settlement goods would be lawful, he did not disagree but said it was about what best promoted ‘peace’ rather than the law. Many MPs would argue that the best way to promote peace is to stop Israel’s unlawful colonization of Palestinian land, and a ban on Israeli settlement goods would be a good start.
Nia Griffiths MP asked about Israel’s lack of progress on meeting international standards and laws in relation to the their treatment of child prisoners a year on since the publication of the FCO funded ‘Children in Military Custody’ report. She specifically asked for the introduction of audio-visual recordings for interrogations.
1. Questions to the Foreign Secretary (FCO Questions): (Tuesday 18 June)
– Grahame M Morris: Will he accelerate proposals for labelling settlement goods so that consumers can choose whether to support the system of apartheid. [Wm Hague: We are preparing EU-wide guidelines on labelling so that consumers can make an informed choice but do not believe a ban would promote peace.]
– James Clappison: What progress has he made in persuading Mr Abbas to drop preconditions for talks? [Wm Hague: We are encouraging the Palestinians an Israel as well to approach talks in a way that will allow them to succeed.]
– Richard Burden: Can I put it to him that if UK imposed a ban on settlement goods, it would be within the law? [Wm Hague: The question is not what is lawful but what best promotes peace.]
– Sir Bob Russell: Israel by its policies is a racist apartheid state. Will he confirm that all settlement products are produced on illegally occupied land? [Wm Hague: Yes.]
– Nia Griffiths: Would he consider – a year since the publication of Children in Military Custody report – pressing Israel for specific deadlines on specific issues, such as use of audiovisual recording? [Alistair Burt: I will raise these pressing issues with Israeli Attorney General who is visiting this week. There are 238 children within the Israeli juicial system, including 137 in Israel itself.]
– Robert Halfon: Would he agree that the tragedy is that many crimes committed by minors in the “disputed territories” are of a violent and ideological nature. [Alistair Burt: Tragedy is that the two groups of people have been separated for far too long.]
2. Topical FCO Questions:
– David Ward: Would he be prepared to provide moral leadership by personally boycotting settlement goods? [Wm Hague: I am not in close control of the fresh produced purchased in the Hague household.]
Rest of Tuesday 18 June
3. David Lidington will attend FAC on 24 June and GAC on 25 June in Luxembourg. At the FAC Ministers will address the deteriorating prospects for a two-state solution, and the importance of supporting US efforts.
4. Question tabled by Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with European partners regarding the right to security for Palestinian children living in the Gaza Strip?
– Baroness Tonge: Is the Minister aware that 1,519 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel since September 2000, that over 10% of under fives suffer from malnutrition and stunting and are five times more likely to die than Israeli children? Is their plight to be forgotten now as the West concentrates on the tragedy in Syria?
– Baroness Warsi: No it will not; I am aware of the statistics; we support Senator Kerry’s efforts to revive peace talks.
– Lord Davies of Stamford: Does she not agree that Hamas could lift the blockade any day it wished by accepting the Quartet principles and abjuring violence as Fatah has done?
– Baroness Warsi: In the Middle East nothing can be solved by one side alone and nothing is that simple.
– Lord Wright: How do HMG propose to react to a statement yesterday by a minister in Mr Netanyahu’s government to annex all the territories not handed over to the PA in Oslo and describing the 2-state solution as dead?
– Baroness Warsi: We continue to support a 2-state solution.
– Baroness Falkner: Would the Minister tell the House if we can look forward to a statement on the G8 that addresses the issue of Israel-Palestine, and what discussions are HMG having in the EU regarding reported intentions to support Palestinian statehood in UN agencies should there be no progress in 2013?
– Baroness Warsi: It would be inappropriate for me to preempt any G8 statement; of course the EU can have a position but it is the US that can move things forward.
– Lord Turnberg: Is she aware that there are large numbers of Palestinian children receiving treatment in Israeli hospitals and that Hamas have tried to stop this being publicised?
– Baroness Warsi: Of course there are fantastic human stories where the two communities are working together.
– Baroness Afshar: Are HMG aware that if the West disregards and tacitly supports the abuse of human rights by one government in the ME, then that abuse becomes the norm and is dangerous for the whole of the ME?
– Baroness Warsi: I agree; that is why we have the periodic review at the Human Rights Council; we are concerned that Israel has not engaged with it and we urge Israel to return and re-engage.
5. Baroness Tonge: Do HMG intend to provide naval protection for “Gaza’s Ark” when it sails from Gaza to take exports from that territory? [Baroness Warsi: No.]
6. Baronesss Tonge: What developments have occurred since our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of health dangers in Salfit from sewage from Barkan and Ariel settlements with the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories on 5 February?
Nos 5-6 Lords Written Answers
Foreign Affairs Committee
Hansard video: @ 2:22:32
– John Baron (in Foreign Affairs Committe questions to Alistair Burt about the UK’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain): Can I move us on, if I may, to the MEPP generally? It’s becoming a bit of a cliche in response to any of the queries about the MEPP that there is no peace and there is certainly no process. To what extent is Saudi Arabia providing any support to the efforts to restart the ME peace initiative if you like, or process? And is the Arab peace initiative still relevant today?
Alistair Burt: Yea, firstly, I think, I think the opportunities for a revival of the process are as good at the moment as they have been for some time, for reasons we all know very well. Second-term president prepared to take an interest in it, you know, quite, a very serious one from his speech in Israel, and clearly a new secretary of state in the United States who is very, very personally committed. So perhaps there is actually a process under way. There is a sort of peace, certainly compared to Syria. There is a peace between Palestinians on the West Bank and Israel. There is a ceasefire peace of sorts even between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. But it’s not stable unless we get the settlement. Um, I understand an Arab League delegation recently saw Secretary Kerry, of which the Saudis were part of it (sic). The Arab peace initiative, which of course has been a key part of Saudi Arabia’s background and involvement in the MEPP for so long, was reiterated, as a, still as a key part of the process looking forward. And it was a very important statement that was made, that it’s a key part of the process. I think Saudi Arabia has every interest, as the rest of us do, in seeing this issue resolved, with so much uncertainty around in the rest of the area. And we are certainly using that. So Saudi Arabia does support the efforts being made by Secretary Kerry and ourselves to see some progress, which is absolutely vital in the issues between Israel and the Palestinians.
MONDAY 17 JUNE 2013
1. Urgent Question on election of new Iranian President:
– Peter Hain: Should Foreign Secretary not press for direct engagement with Iran on Syria and on Israel-Palestine?
Commons Oral Answers
2. Richard Burden: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to ensure that Israel distinguishes between (a) Israel and (b) Israeli settlements in the OPTs in statistical data provided to the OECD?
3. Richard Burden: Will Foreign Secretary take steps to discourage UK citizens from buying property in the OPTs?
4. Richard Burden: Is Foreign Secretary taking steps to discourage UK citizens from buying property in the OPTs?
Commons Written Answers
5. Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with European partners concerning the case for the UN to be able to co-ordinate its humanitarian response with the authorities in Gaza?
6. Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with European partners about the case for Israel incurring penalties for its policies of forced displacement and settlement building?
Lords Written Answers
Lords Written Answers