THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 2014
1. Business Questions
– Louise Ellman: “This morning, the Community Security Trust has published its report showing record levels of anti-Semitic hate incidents. The British Jewish community feels under threat as anti-Zionism merges into anti-Semitism following disproportionate criticism of Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza. May we have a debate in Government time to discuss this very distressing and disturbing growing phenomenon?”
– William Hague: “These issues are related to some of the matters that we will discuss in Wednesday’s foreign policy debate. We should all be clear that whatever our views about the rights and wrongs of conflicts in the middle east, Israeli action in Gaza, attacks on Israel by Hamas from Gaza or the two-state solution that is necessary in the middle east conflict, it is utterly unacceptable to try to translate that into anti-Semitism in any form. In the United Kingdom, we should stand strongly against that and that is why, whatever our disagreements from time to time with the Government of Israel, we stand by the legitimacy of Israel and stand strongly against anti-Semitism in any form.”
Commons Oral Answers
2. Roger Godsiff: What steps does the UK plan to take in response to Israel’s announcement that it will appropriate nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Etzion settlement?
Commons Written Answer
MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2014
1. Statement by Prime Minister: EU Council, Security and Middle East:
– David Cameron: On Israel and Gaza, we are all deeply saddened by the violence and civilian suffering, particularly to children; we helped bring about ceasefire; we welcome Cairo agreement; loss of life appalling; number of civilian casualties unacceptable; “The life of a Palestinian child is worth the same as that of a child of any one of our nations—but support for a lasting settlement that includes a Palestinian state does not mean we should ever support the terrorist tactics of Hamas, which has rained down rockets on Israel and continually refused to accept ceasefires. We will continue to support Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself, but that does not mean we support every decision the Israeli Government take. Most recently, the appropriation of nearly 1,000 acres of land in the west bank near Bethlehem is utterly deplorable. Settlements are illegal under international law and will do nothing to create the kind of peace process we all want, and we urge the Israeli Government to reverse this decision.” We are concerned at growing reports of anti-Semitism on UK streets.
– Ed Miliband: We deeply regret over 2,000 Palestinian deaths, including children, and Israeli soldiers and civilians. “We unequivocally condemn Hamas’s dreadful and murderous rocket attacks and defend Israel’s right to defend itself. In our view, however, the nature of Israel’s response in this crisis cannot be justified, and I agree that today’s annexation of Palestinian land is, in the words of the Prime Minister, “deplorable”.” What steps will he and EU take to advocate meaningful negotiations for 2-s-s, which alone can stop the cycle of violence? Anti-Semitism inexcusable anywhere.
– DC: To get meaningful negotiations underway on Gaza, we intend to encourage PA to restore its authority in Gaza.
– Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when he made his previous statement on Gaza, I said that the Israelis could kill but they could not win. Seven weeks later, 2,000 Palestinians, including 500 children, have been killed by the Israelis and an enormous amount of physical damage has been inflicted that makes life in the Gaza strip next to impossible. What will the Government do to prevent another such attack, which will come at some time or another if not stopped, and will he now impose an arms ban on Israel?”
– DC: We need to persuade Israel that she must engage in talks, and the Palestinians that terrorism will not achieve results.
– Jeremy Corbyn: Why did UK and other EU nations abstain in UN vote calling for war crimes investigations in Gaza; why does he not suspend arms sales to Israel?
– DC: “The specific motion was unbalanced“. On existing export licences to Israel, we have reviewed them all; the vast majority were not for anything IDF could use in Gaza. “Twelve licences were identified for components that could be part of equipment used by the Israeli defence force in Gaza, and no new licences for military equipment were issued for use by the Israeli defence force during that review period.”
– Ben Bradshaw: Why is he still sending arms to Netanyahu?
– DC: We are operating the policy put in place by the Labour government.
– Barry Sheerman: [extract] “Is he also aware that much of the discontent among young Asians in my constituency is due to our perceived weakness over Gaza and our reluctance to distance ourselves from Israel?”
– DC: Avoids replying to this point.
– Richard Burden: We need to be consistent. “Will he apply the same standards on land grabs and sanctions against Israel as against Russia? He said that sanctions work, which is particularly important when a small nation is threatened or undermined by a more powerful one. May I invite him to apply that same logic to Israel’s actions in the west bank?”
– DC: “We can draw these parallels, but of course there are differences between the circumstances of Israel and Palestine and what is happening in Ukraine, not least because Ukraine is an independent, sovereign, recognised country today. But I do think we should make very clear our reaction to this totally unacceptable land grab by Israel.”
– Grahame M Morris: With reference to withdrawing UK passports: “Given the strong evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza….. will British citizens fighting in the Israel defence forces be treated in the same way as those returning from Syria and Iraq?”
– DC: That is not a fair or reasonable description of the situation; “The conflict was started by Hamas rockets raining down on Israel, and Israel has a right to defend itself. I think that the hon. Gentleman, when he looks at his words, will come to regret drawing a comparison between a soldier fighting in the Israel defence forces and a terrorist returning from Syria.”
– Philip Hollobone: 70% of Israelis lived within range of the 4,500 Gaza rockets; 2,000 Palestinians were killed in response; UK is a major donor to UNWRA in Gaza; will he work with others to demilitarise Gaza so materials will be used to rebuild civilian infrastructure rather than a new Hamas terror tunnel network?
– DC: I agree; “We need to see the rockets out, the Palestinian Authority in, and the borders and posts open so that that part of Palestine can be properly regenerated.”
– Matthew Offord: Does he agree that Hamas is guilty of two war crimes: siting missiles and rockets amid a civilian population, eg in UNWRA schools; and killing civilians in Israel with those rockets?
– DC: “There can be little doubt that Hamas uses people to try and protect its rockets, which is absolutely despicable.” [extract]
– Michael McCann: Will he condemn Hamas for violating and rejecting 11 ceasefires, which could have prevented the deaths of hundreds, even thousands, of people? “Does he agree that the only way to secure peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is first to ensure that Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist?”
– DC: “On several occasions during this conflict, a ceasefire was either agreed or implemented, but Hamas broke it with unilateral rocket attacks into Israel. These were attacks directed, we believe, by the leader of Hamas, who of course was nowhere near Gaza at the time. I believe that Hamas bears primary responsibility for what has happened.”
– David Anderson: Why did he not recall parliament in spite of so much violence, including 2,000 innocent people killed in Gaza?
– DC: I do not think it was necessary.
– Robert Halfon: Thanks PM for statement that Israel was right to defend itself against Hamas’s missile barrage. “Does he agree that the difference between Hamas and ISIS is one of degrees? Does he also agree that Iran remains a serious security threat and that our enemy’s enemy is not our friend?”
– DC: “If one saw the shocking pictures of Hamas lining people up and shooting them in a firing squad, one could see the nature of the organisation with which one is dealing. It is an important issue. I support a Palestinian state. I want the Palestinians to achieve that goal, but Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It believes in targeting innocent people and murdering them to pursue its objectives. It does not even recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist. Therefore, we have to start our discussions with a recognition of the true nature of the organisation that we are dealing with. He is right about that.”
– Toby Perkins: “People throughout Britain have been absolutely appalled by the scenes in Gaza, Iraq and Syria this summer. What impact have all the Foreign Office resignations and the removal of the Foreign Secretary, at an incredibly difficult time for the Foreign Office, had on the British Government’s capacity to respond?”
– DC: “The new Foreign Secretary has had a full in-tray but he has handled these issues and discussions with huge calmness and ability…. Obviously, it is a matter of regret that Baroness Warsi decided to resign…… Overall, we have a very strong team of Ministers who are more than capable of tackling these issues.”
– Andy McDonald: What practical steps does he intend to take so that Israel reverses its latest land grab and commits properly to a two-state solution?
– DC: We and our allies will continue to condemn this action in international forums; we will continue to support and fund the PA; but the Palestinians and the Israelis need to talk with each other; we cannot decide for them.
– Kate Green: The Palestinians’ suffering over many years causes great distress and concern in my constituency. What recent discussions has he had with the Americans?
– DC: “I did discuss this issue with President Obama when we spoke during August, and to be fair to him he has taken a tough line over the need for a ceasefire and was very clear with the Israeli Prime Minister, as was I, about the need for a ceasefire and about the frankly unacceptable level of civilian casualties. Now we have the ceasefire, it should be about trying to get Gaza up and running again. That means the Palestinian Authority taking control, the rockets being taken out and the important restrictions being lifted so that that place can function properly.”
– Paul Blomfield: His condemnation today of the land grab is welcome, but: “does he recognise that over many years words alone have failed to move the Israeli policy of illegal occupation and that now is the time for concerted action to force the Israeli Government to shift their policy?”
– DC: [extract] “The point I make is that we have in the past been prepared to back up our actions, as we did with other EU partners over the issue of research grants to Israel. However, as I said, the first step is to make absolutely clear our condemnation of this, and I will work with others to make sure it is reversed.”
– Debbie Abrahams: “Four weeks ago, I led a multi-faith delegation from Oldham in presenting a petition to the Prime Minister asking for Parliament to be recalled in order to have a debate on how we can support sustainable peace in Gaza and Israel.” Why did he not recall Parliament?
– DC: [extract] “I did not think it was necessary, because there was not a specific decision that Parliament was being asked to make.”
– Mark Durkan: We note his recognition of the danger of the extremists’ narrative, but “does he also recognise the danger of helping to fertilise what they are trying to propagate? I am talking about when Governments appear to adopt double standards and inconsistency in relation to clear violations of international law, not least in respect of Gaza, and then in domestic law appear to create a twilight zone around the very basic concept of citizenship.”
– DC: “I do not accept that we are operating any sort of double standards. I have set out the situation very clearly with respect to Israel and Gaza, and also the problems that we face with ISIL. It will be for hon. Members to decide whether or not they want to support that.”
Commons Oral Questions
2. Katy Clark: What steps is UK taking to ensure that all Palestinian civilians made homeless during Operation Protective Edge will have their homes rebuilt as swiftly as possible?
3. Jim Cunningham: What funding does DfID allocate to Palestine; will DfID Secretary commission a review of how effective that funding is in serving DfID’s objectives in Palestine?
4. Jim Cunningham: What funding has DfID allocated to aid Palestinian citizens who have been injured, orphaned, made homeless and lost their livelihoods as a result of Israel’s recent air strikes; does DfID Secretary plan to keep the level of such funding under review in the light of future developments in that conflict?
5. Gregory Campbell: Will DfID Secretary make any changes to aid allocations as a result of the violence in Gaza?
6. Ian Lucas: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the implementation of each of the recommendations in the report, Children in Military Custody, published in June 2012?
7. Simon Danczuk: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to de-escalate the situation in Gaza?
8. Stephen Doughty: What assessment has FCO made of recent Israeli actions in Gaza and that country’s compliance with international law and its obligations under the Geneva Conventions?
9. Stephen Doughty: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the legality under international law and the Geneva Conventions of Israel’s current actions in Gaza?
10. Sarah Champion: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to resolve the situation in Gaza and the West Bank?
11. Sarah Champion: What recent steps has Foreign Secretary taken to publicise internationally the UK’s position on the conflict in Gaza?
12. Sarah Champion: What recent steps has Foreign Secretary taken to protect residents of Gaza and the West Bank?
13. Sarah Champion: What recent representations has he received on the right to self-determination of Palestinian people, and will he make a statement?
14. Katy Clark: Will BIS Secretary suspend all standard individual export licence and open individual export licences to Israel and the OPTs until at least such time as a ceasefire in the present conflict in that region has been established?
Nos 2-14 Commons Written Answers
15. Statement by Eric Pickles on the work of the Department for Communities and Local Government during the summer recess:[extract] “On 28 July, Ministers gave their best wishes to Muslims in the UK and across the world for Eid, which marks the end of the Ramadan a period of fast and peaceful prayer. Then on 13 August, Ministers met the Jewish organisation, Community Security Trust, to hear about the rise in anti-Semitism as a consequence of recent events in the Middle East, and to listen to the concerns of the British Jewish community. The group recorded more than 200 incidents in July, the second highest monthly total since the organisation started recording incidents in 1984. Britain has a long standing reputation for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, within the law. Whatever one’s views about the politics of Israel and Gaza, there is absolutely no place in our country for anti-Semitic attacks. Those who commit hate crimes should expect to be punished with the full force of the law. Everyone who believes in British liberties should condemn anti-Semitism and stand up for the Jewish community’s right to practice their faith without fear or intimidation.”
Commons Written Statements
WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2014
1. Questions to DfID on UK’s Gaza relief effort:
– Desmond Swayne [Alan Duncan’s successor as Minister of State]: As one of the largest donors the UK has spent some £17 million in emergency aid, providing food and essential supplies to families in desperate need, repairing water infrastructure and providing counselling to those who have been traumatised.
– Helen Goodman: 500 children have died, 1,000 are permanently disabled; half a million cannot go to school; the UN’s appeal is still only half funded. What is DfID doing to get other members of the international community to play their part?
– DS: “From our rapid reaction facility, we have specifically earmarked funds for the assistance of children….there will undoubtedly be a donors’ conference soon, but that will be immeasurably assisted by a meaningful peace process.”
– Ian Lavery: Almost 1.8 million people of all ages, one quarter of Gaza’s inhabitants, have been displaced; what is DfID doing to provide relief for the mainly disabled and elderly?
– DS: Some 58,000 people are sheltering in UNWRA schools; 100,000 have no home to return to. “Clearly, there must be a rebuilding effort, but that will require substantial movement on access into and out of Gaza, and that will require a peace process that can proceed.”
– Alex Cunningham: The illegal blockade has denied the people the right to the essentials of daily life for many years; they now depend on Israel or the tunnels to get aid. Does he agree that it is a necessity to end the blockade, and what will DfID and others do to achieve that?
– DS: “The UN report suggested that even before this latest round of hostilities, Gaza would become uninhabitable by 2020—before it had started to be smashed to smithereens. Clearly, there must be movement on access if Gaza is to have a viable economic future. What are we doing about that? We are contributing to a peace process, and our primary aim in this Department is to bring relief to those who are in want.”
– Graham Evans: Will he update the House on the work DfID is doing with the FCO to help address the underlying causes of the conflict and to work towards a 2-s-s?
– DS: “We believe that a two-state solution is the only realistic game in town, and to that end we are spending considerable sums of money in support of the Palestinian Authority, in order to get it into the habit of good governance, so that democratic institutions can flourish. We are also investing considerably in private sector development so that there will be economic growth, in order that a future state should be both stable and prosperous.”
– Albert Owen: Is he as appalled as I am that the UNWRA schools, so-called safe havens, were bombed and people within them killed, and what is DfID doing with others in the international community to ensure that those are safe havens?
– DS: “As I said, some 58,000 people are now sheltering in these schools. It is absolutely right that breaches of international law on both sides be investigated, and we will be vigilant in that process.”
– David Ward: Has any consideration been given to the fact that weaponry, or parts of weapons, sold to Israel with UK approval, may have done much of the damage?
– DS: Export licences have been thoroughly reviewed and proper procedures put in place. “In fact, 12 licences were identified where a component part could possibly have been used in an offensive capacity. Those licences will be suspended if there is a return to significant hostilities.”[compare with Prime Minister’s remarks on 1 Sept.]
– Richard Burden: “May I press the Minister a little more on the question of the blockade? If I understood him correctly, he said that a peace process needs to be got going in order to lift the blockade, but my understanding of the ceasefire is that an easing of the blockade, at least, comes first. That is a way of getting to the peace process. The aid needs to be going in now. What is the Government’s position? Is it pressing for the blockade to be lifted now?”
– DS: “My understanding of the ceasefire arrangements is that they, in effect, restore the status quo ante with respect to the Rafah crossing. But if we are to see a significant easing of the restrictions and economic development, there must be much greater access, and that means that Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be taken into account and allayed.”
– Sir Peter Luff: “Even before the latest Israeli action the people of Gaza faced a pressing humanitarian crisis, caused, for example, by the salination of the aquifer, with all drinking water becoming undrinkable quite soon afterwards. Is there anything that his Department can do now of a practical nature, not dependent on the peace process, to improve the longer-term situation in Gaza?”
– DS: “We have deployed funds from our rapid reaction facility to deal with the water issue. But in the long term, the salination and desalination will require a very substantial investment in the infrastructure.”
– Alison McGovern: “The 3,000 injured children and the 100,000 people made homeless need urgent, uninterrupted help from agencies such as the Red Cross. What steps has he taken with the FCO and others to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to ensure safe, continuous access for those working to aid the recovery?”
– DS: “We continually make representations to the Israelis with respect to making access easier…. many of those children have life-changing injuries. The NGOs who have to negotiate access to Gaza currently incur costs of some £6 million a year to do so, and that is not acceptable.”
– Stephen Hammond: Israel and Egypt have offered humanitarian aid during the crisis; but what could DfID do immediately to ensure supplies of medicine and medical aid?
– DS: “We have supplied £3 million in emergency aid to the ICRC, and through our rapid reaction facility to other NGOs.”
– Alex Cunningham: “World Vision has told me that half a million children did not begin a new school year last month because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How does DfID intend to support efforts to ensure that we do not see another lost generation and that these children get to school?”
– Justine Greening: I recently spoke to the head of UNWRA about how we can create homes and refuges for people to leave the schools so that the children can go back to the schools so they do not lose their education.
Commons Oral Answers
– Martin Horwood: “Does the Prime Minister agree that our friends in the middle east who share a basic commitment to pluralism, democracy and peaceful change—from the Syrian National Coalition to Mahmoud Abbas in Palestine and the elected Governments of Kurdistan, Libya and, we hope, Iraq—must by now be finding British support inconsistent, fragmented and unstrategic, and is it not time for a more consistent strategy?”
– PM: I disagree.
– Matthew Offord: “Does the Prime Minister agree that although it is acceptable to hold opposing opinions, it is not acceptable to promote boycotts of goods produced in Israel or kosher goods as this conflates the policies of the Israeli Government with Judaism and in turn leads to a rise in anti-Semitism? What reassurance can the Prime Minister give my constituents that this Government will address both boycotts and anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom?”
– PM: “We have been very clear that we do not support boycotts and we do not support measures that are intended to delegitimise the state of Israel, which has a right to exist and which we argue has a right to peace within its proper borders. My hon. Friend makes an important point, which is that we should be absolutely clear that you can criticise Israel and the Israeli Government for their actions without being anti-Semitic, but in recent weeks we have seen a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in our country, and as I said on Monday, that is completely unacceptable.”
– James Gray: “We have seen chaos in Iraq and Syria, appalling events that have just passed in Gaza, Libya in some disturbance……… yet this House has had no proper opportunity to discuss these matters. Is it not time that the Prime Minister allowed us a full and substantive, preferably two-day debate, and certainly before the House rises for the party conference recess, to discuss these matters?”
– PM: [excerpt] “In consultation with the Leader of the House, there will be a full day’s debate as soon as next Wednesday, I think.”
– Sir Menzies Campbell: Often people suggest when there are hostages that ransoms should be paid. “Should those who advance that case take account of the fact that the money achieved by ransom is not distributed, for example, among the impoverished citizens of Gaza.”
– PM: Absolutely right.
Commons Oral Answers
- Jim Cunningham: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the potential merits of a ban on the sales of UK arms to Israel?
- Anas Sarwar: Why did the UK abstain from voting on the motion “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” at the 21st Special Session of the UNHRC? [Tobias Ellwood quotes from Foreign Secretary’s press release of 23.7.14 – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140903/text/140903w0001.htm#14090368000069]
5. Jim Cunningham: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the proposals for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza? [Tobias Ellwood quotes from his statement of 26.8.14 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/minister-for-middle-east-welcomes-gaza-ceasefire]
6. Fiona Mactaggart: What help does DfID Secretary plan to give to children in Gaza who require support to deal with trauma related to bombing?
TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2014
1. Peter Bone, moving the Bill to create a Business of the House Commission: [extract] “Such a commission would have been incredibly useful this summer, when there has been so much debate about whether or not the crises in Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq and Syria warranted the recall of Parliament.”
2. Richard Burden: What meetings has the Prime Minister had with civil society or religious groups based in the UK which have discussed the situation in Israel and Palestine since 1 July 2014; which organisations has he met; and when did each such meeting take place?
Commons Written Answers
EDM 313 – UK ARMS EXPORTS TO ISRAEL
Date tabled: 03.09.2014
Primary sponsor: Roger Godsiff
That this House notes with concern that, despite Government commitments to keep all weapons export licences under review and despite the recent deaths of more than 2,000 civilians in Gaza, the UK is still permitting arms exports to Israel; further notes that the UK has licensed more than £40 million worth of military exports to Israel since 2010, including components used for drones, bombs and targeting systems; condemns the UK’s long history of exporting arms to regimes which use them against their own citizens to suppress dissent and calls for democracy, or for external aggression; further notes that the laser guidance systems of Paveway II bombs – which were used against hospitals, schools and UN refuges in Gaza in the recent conflict – were produced in a factory in Fife, Scotland; further notes estimates that more than 50,000 such bombs have been dropped on Gaza since 8 July 2014; observes that under UK arms export rules, the UK may not issue an export licence for equipment that will be used for internal oppression; further notes with concern that the Ministry of Defence is currently working with Israel-based defence company Elbit Systems on a drone programme worth £1 billion; further condemns the Government’s failure to withdraw any of the UK’s 131 arms export licences to Israel; further calls on the Government to stop prioritising the profits of wealthy arms companies over human lives and global stability; and asks the Government to reconsider the UK’s arms export policy to stop the use of UK-made weapons against civilians.