Month: November 2014

Why David Cameron is wrong about Israel

On 28 June 2010 – just six weeks after becoming Prime Minister – David Cameron told the Commons that Gaza was a “giant, open prison”.  A month later, on a visit to Turkey, he again said that Gaza “must not be allowed to remain a prison camp” and went on to condemn Israel’s assault on the peace flotilla as “completely unacceptable”.
What happened to that David Cameron?  In the House of Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions we heard a totally different David Cameron who brushed aside Sir Gerald Kaufman’s concerns about the new Nationality Bill before the Israeli Parliament and the threat it poses to the civil rights of Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens with breath-taking complacency.
It’s worth reminding ourselves of the precise words used by Sir Gerald in his question and the Prime Minister’s dismissive reply:
Prime Minister’s Questions Wednesday 26th November  2014
Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Will the Prime Minister condemn the new Israeli Government Bill that removes what are defined as national rights from all Israeli citizens who are not Jews, makes Hebrew the only national language and has been denounced by the Israeli Attorney-General as causing a “deterioration of the democratic characteristic of the state”? Will he make it clear that the statutory, repressive removal of citizenship rights on the basis of religion will turn Israel into an apartheid state?”
David Cameron: “One of the reasons I am such a strong supporter of Israel is that it is a country that has given rights and democracy to its people, and it is very important that that continues. When we look across the region and at the indexes of freedom, we see that Israel is one of the few countries that tick the boxes for freedom, and it is very important that it continues to do so.”
One should maybe make allowances for the fact that the Prime Minister would have had no notice of this question, but that would be an excuse for an answer that is non-committal, not for an answer that is totally misleading and wrong.
When one looks at international indexes of freedom one see that Israel, far from “ticking the boxes”, is languishing a long way down the league table.  In the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom Israel is in 44th place, behind Macedonia, Latvia, Armenia and Jordan.
In the 2014 World Press Freedom Index Israel is in 96th place below Kuwait, Liberia, Mongolia and Panama.
In an international Freedom of Religion Index Israel comes in bottom place, scoring ‘nul points’ along with  Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and Afghanistan.

The reason is precisely because it has not “given rights and freedom to its people”, as David Cameron claimed, but continues to deny equality to its 1.2 million Arab citizens, and nowhere more so that in the proposed Bill before the Knesset, as Sir Gerald pointed out.
A list of more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures, has been published by the civil rights organisation Adalah.
And even where the law does not discriminate, the police do. Of 11,282 complaints of police brutality filed with the police complaints body in the last three years, 97.3% have been dropped or closed or stopped short of criminal charges.
And now the Knesset is considering a Bill that would entrench “national rights” for Jewish Israelis that would not be shared by Muslim or Christian Israelis and deprive Arabic of its status as the second national language. Does this “tick the boxes for freedom”?
Where is the David Cameron of 2010?
 
Advertisements

Abbas to UN: ‘Back us or we go to court’

MPs stage three-hour debate on Palestine on December 1st
FCO questions on December 2nd

mahmoudAbbas_1581534cPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to offer a choice to the United Nations Security Council on Monday November 24th – either they support his petition for a Palestinian state on 1967 borders or he proceeds with his application to join the International Criminal Court.

If his petition fails to win the required 9-6 majority or if, as seems more likely, it is passed but the Americans exercise their veto, then Abbas has said he will activate the application to the Court which will make Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem liable to prosecution for war crimes.

It would mean that Israeli soldiers caught on camera shooting unarmed protesters in recent demonstrations in Jerusalem could be arrested and hauled before the court in The Hague. It could also lead to the arrest of Palestinians.

The ICC considers cases against individuals, not countries, and they can only be arrested in countries that are members of the ICC, which does not include Israel or the United States.  But Israeli military could be arrested in the UK and many other European countries

Minister pledges another £20 million for Gaza this winter

International Development questions Wednesday October 28th

 

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): What plans she has to work with her international counterparts to address humanitarian needs in Gaza?

Justine Greening: The UK will continue to work closely with international partners to address humanitarian needs in Gaza. We have already provided over £17 million in humanitarian assistance and recently committed a further £20 million at the international donor conference in Cairo to assist those affected, including hundreds of thousands left homeless as winter approaches.

Mr Turner: There are 1.8 million people in Gaza and it is physically smaller than the Isle of Wight. Does the Secretary of State accept that 485,000 people in Gaza need emergency food assistance and 273,000 people need school buildings for shelter and, most important of all, around 1 million people are desperate for work? What is she doing about that?

Justine Greening: My Friend raises some very good points. Gaza is one of the most densely populated parts of the world. As he says, we are, of course, providing shelter and basic services to many people, but we also increasingly work on private sector support, supporting livelihoods, and the key to that in the long term is a political settlement that means the economy in Gaza can thrive normally.

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Will she condemn in the strongest terms the recent total closure of the Gaza border by Israel, in utter violation of the ceasefire, making it very difficult—even more difficult—for the aid she provides and the other aid for reconstruction after the terrible destruction imposed by the Israelis? This cannot go on.

Justine Greening: We are extremely concerned about the continued restrictions, which have a tremendous effect on the Gazan economy. Of course we understand the security concerns of Israel, but ultimately we need leadership from both parties to move forward to some political settlement. We will never get to provide the long-term support to people unless we can get in and out of Gaza easily and, as he knows, that has been a very great problem for us.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con):Will she join me in thanking my constituents for their fundraising efforts to help address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and will she confirm what steps the UK is taking to aid reconstruction in Gaza following the Cairo conference?

Justine Greening: I pay warm tribute to my Friend’s constituents. They are among the millions of groups and communities around our country that do fantastic work supporting people in very difficult parts of our world. We are playing our role. Part of our announcement at the international donor conference was to make sure we can help fund some of the reconstruction that is now required in Gaza.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): While I agree with the Secretary of State that a political settlement is vital, does she agree with me that there is still no excuse for Israeli forces firing on fishermen when all they are doing is trying to fish, or firing on farmers when all they are trying to do is farm their land, and what can she do to ensure that the Israeli forces stop doing this?

Justine Greening: We are always concerned about these sorts of incidents of violence. In the end, people will have to get back around the negotiating table, and we will have to have talks that go further than the ceasefire that is currently in place. They need to get back under way in Egypt, and ultimately people need to agree that the current status quo is simply untenable, and communities on both sides need to work towards having a better future for their children than they are currently experiencing.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): The Secretary of State is absolutely right that we need a political settlement, but is she concerned that, of all the money that is being given, some will be siphoned away for Hamas to build new tunnels—terror tunnels—back into Israel? What is she doing to ensure that British taxpayers’ money does not contribute to that?

Justine Greening: I can categorically assure my Friend that no aid money goes to Hamas. We have safeguards in place to ensure compliance with both UK and EU legislation on terror funding.

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab): Given this House’s historic vote to recognise Palestine, the decision of the Swedish Government and similar debates in the French and Irish Parliaments, what work is the Secretary of State doing with Palestinian civil society and structures to prepare the state for wider recognition?

Justine Greening: We do broad capacity-building with the Palestinian Authority. As she points out, there is a political element to the way forward that is the base for seeing any real progress in the long term. First, though, our focus has been on providing humanitarian support to people affected by the recent crisis, and then more broadly starting to be part of the reconstruction efforts so that we can get people back into their homes and, critically, get children back into their schools.

 

MPs who voted for the motion to recognise Palestine are shown in blue-green, against in purple, absent or abstaining in brown and ministers who were not allowed to vote in blue.

‘We condemn, but nothing follows’ – Baroness Warsi

House of Lords Debate on Middle East 30 Oct 2014

Lord Risby (Con): There have been no serious moves by the Israeli Government to a two-state solution. Indeed, through the settlement policy, all the moves have been to prevent such a realisation.

There is now a unity Government under Mahmoud Abbas. However imperfect that is, the Israelis are most unlikely to find a more moderate Palestinian leader.

(His) position and credibility is constantly being undermined by the continuing construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Demographic changes in Israel and Palestine point to the necessity of moving .. to a final acceptance of the Palestinian reality. It is, quite simply, in Israel’s interests to pursue this. No country can escape the reality of its own geography.

 

Baroness Warsi (Con): We condemn the illegal settlements. We say that they threaten the very viability of a two-state solution. But what consequences ever follow from that condemnation?

As Sir Alan Duncan has said, settlements are simply “an act of theft”, initiated and supported by the State of Israel.

The strategic planning, including the announcements on the E1 plan and other building programmes, display an even more dangerous intent. They create enclaves of Palestinians cut off from each other; cut off from their future capital and cut off from a viable existence. It is an organised and planned strangulation of what we call the two-state solution.

We continue to take the position that International Criminal Court (ICC) membership makes negotiations impossible. Why do we say that negotiations would be impossible if the Palestinians went to the ICC? Is it because Israel does not wish to be held accountable for any war crimes that may have been committed; or is it because we, who oppose immunity for such crimes elsewhere, are prepared to make an exception in this particular case?

If we are not prepared to pursue justice for those who are suffering now, how can we be trusted to fulfil our commitment to pursue justice for those who suffered and lost many decades ago? We condemn, but .. no consequences follow.

The Prime Minister said in July 2010  that “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp”. What has changed in Gaza since then?

In the light of the parliamentary vote in the Commons and the lack of any negotiations, will the Government move to a position of recognition? If we are not prepared to move to a recognition of Palestine, can we lay out the specific conditions that will need to be met? Will the Government set out a pathway in the interests of transparency?

What consequences have flowed from the strong condemnation by the Foreign Secretary in September and October of this year of the recent settlement announcements?

How have we, since the Gaza conflict, used the so-called influence and capital we built up during that conflict with the Israeli Government to change their position since then?

It was because of the concerns that I have raised today—and not, as some have disturbingly tried to suggest, because I am a Muslim—that, as the then Minister with responsibility for the UN, the ICC and human rights, I concluded that I could no longer defend our policy at that Dispatch Box. Our current position on this issue is morally indefensible.

It is not in Britain’s national interests and it will have a long-term detrimental impact on our reputation, internationally and domestically. It is time for us to start to be on the right side of history.

Lord Mitchell (Lab): I support the state of Israel because history has cruelly demonstrated that, at any time or in any place, Jews live in peril. However I am not saying “Israel, right or wrong”.

The Naqba was a catastrophe for the Palestinian people, and we Jews should admit it. The occupation of the West Bank is a stain. In my view, the building of settlements is wrong. The road blocks, the pass controls and the goading are all intolerable. For me as a supporter of Israel, they are hard to stomach. If history has taught us anything, you humiliate a people at your peril. Many Israelis yearn for a two-state solution but, in truth, some do not. I am sad to say that this includes many members of Israel’s current Government. I certainly support a Palestinian state, but not quite yet. It must be negotiated with both the Palestinians and with Israel.

Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con): We cannot uphold the right of others around the world to stand up for their freedom and self-determination and deny that same right to the Palestinians. Through our shared history, Great Britain has a special responsibility to Palestine, which we should discharge by recognising Palestine as a sovereign state alongside the sovereign state of Israel as an important step to peace.

 Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): What other armed forces in the world would send warnings to civilians living close to military targets that they are about to bomb? Israel does, even at the cost of exposing its own troops to greater danger in the process. The world community’s failure to give Israel credit for that shows just how hard it is for Israel to gain a fair hearing on the stage of international opinion.

What makes me despair is the absence of reporting in the media on the support that Israel has consistently given to the people of Gaza. Some formidable forces are lobbying against Israel in the British public arena. It is perhaps the unrelenting campaigns of such formidable forces that drown out the truth about what Israel is doing to help Gaza, even during hostilities.

I would like to give some examples. On 25 August this year, in the middle of a war in which a bombardment of Hamas missiles was forcing many thousands of Israeli men, women and children to run for cover whenever an air raid siren sounded—even in the middle of such a bombardment—111 trucks entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel carrying 2,190 tonnes of food. On that same day, three trucks entered Gaza through the same crossing from Israel, carrying 8 tonnes of humanitarian supplies.

Baroness Deech (CB): A great deal of time has been spent on the recognition of Palestine as a state. The Palestinians could have had a state in 1947 and on many occasions since. I now wonder whether the demands for statehood, as an end to occupation and refugees, are genuine. Is it, as its leaders have stated, designed to be merely one more step in the ultimate goal, in keeping with caliphate ideology, of overrunning Israel—where, conveniently, 6 million Jews are gathered?

Palestine, if recognised now, would be just one more failed state in the area, an area not currently wedded to national states. Its leaders have declared that it would be forbidden for any Jews to live there, and one can well imagine how any religious minority would be treated there. It would be a state with no minorities, no income, no support services and, unbelievably, no citizens or returned expatriates. So what would it be for, other than as a launching pad for attacks on territory and in the ICC?

Lord Cope of Berkeley (Con): We need a dramatic gesture from this country to shake the peace process out of the mothballs. I believe, with Sir Vincent Fean, until recently our consul-general, that recognition would advance the peace process by giving hope to Palestinians and by helping the moderates on both sides: that is, the Palestinians who believe in peace and work for peace in co-operation with Israel; and the Israelis who hate what is done in their name—the separation wall, the house demolitions and the imprisonment of thousands without trial—who think about the long-term future and who do not think it inevitable that they should for ever live behind walls in a permanent state of war with their neighbours.

If we believe, as I do, that the two-state solution can bring lasting peace to the Holy Land, we should act on that basis and recognise Palestine as the second state, just as we recognised Israel all those years ago. Sometimes it seems as if we British are bystanders who can have no influence on what happens. But we helped to create the situation and we have a special responsibility in all this. My father was a soldier in Palestine under General Allenby in 1918. In 1920, we—the British—undertook the mandate to guide Palestine to independence. Recognition is our last duty under the mandate.

Baroness Tonge (Ind LD): The propaganda coming out of the Israeli embassy now is to concentrate on Hamas… Hamas was helped in its creation by Israel, which did not like Fatah, and Hamas won the European Union-monitored election in 2006. Hamas was then refused permission to lead the Government in Palestine. Hamas had its MPs arrested and put in Israeli prisons. Most of them are still there. Yet since 2009, Hamas has been saying—and this is from Khaled Meshaal—that it will recognise the state of Israel in the 1967 borders. No one likes to publicise that.

It is time to be honest and ask what the real reason is. Why do we give this rogue government our support? There are several reasons people will mention: Holocaust guilt—quite right—oil and security. But in my opinion and the opinion of many people who are afraid to say it publicly—but I will—there is none so important as the thing that dare not speak its name. I am talking about the activities of the lobby, in this country and in America. AIPAC in America and BICOM here, plus the groups called Friends of Israel in supporting and cajoling and fundraising and launching websites and letter-writing campaigns and e-mail storms, and not supporting MPs or parties if they refuse to give Israel support. Those of us who challenge the lobby are threatened and disposed of by our leaders as best they can. David Ward, my colleague in the Commons, is currently fighting yet another battle against the lobby as I speak.

All lobbies are dangerous and undemocratic; the pro-Israel lobby is not the only one, but it is particularly dangerous in this context. Money and influence win over truth and justice, and the West sinks lower and lower in the world’s esteem because of it.

The Middle East descends into hell, and we will follow if we do not do something to stop the slide.

Lord Weidenfeld (CB): The Gaza campaign was not a routine punitive expedition. To Israelis, it was an existential necessity to prevent the ever-increasing and increasingly effective rocket campaign from burgeoning into a decisive war, endangering major cities and the country’s one main airport. Those of us who lived through the Second World War know what aerial warfare can mean and what it meant to people living in Coventry, Berlin and Dresden; they will understand what has happened in Gaza.

Baroness Anelay (FCO Minister): We are urging both parties to avoid all actions that undermine the prospect of peace. That is why we were particularly disturbed when Israel brought forward advanced plans for 1,060 new housing units in east Jerusalem. We consider that to be an ill-judged and ill-timed decision, which makes it harder to achieve a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital. Such announcements make it more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not serious about peace.

The EU sanctions remain in place. We have consistently made it clear through the EU that there will be consequences to further announcements on settlement. Discussions are under way in Brussels at this moment on what further measures the EU could take to discourage any further settlement expansion, including in Givat Hamatos, E1 and Har Homa. The EU is working closely with other member states to that end.

A one-off recognition of the state of Palestine is not something that we wish to pursue at this stage. We are saying clearly that negotiation is the way forward. We want to recognise Palestine, but we want to do so when there has been an agreement with both sides that we end up with two states that can live alongside each other.

Minister promises EU measures ‘to discourage settlements’

Written questions from Grahame Morris MP

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will support proposals in the EU to impose sanctions on the Israeli government if it goes ahead with tenders and construction of Israeli settlements at Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem.

Answer: Mr Tobias Ellwood We are strongly opposed to any attempts to change the facts on the ground in East Jerusalem by increasing the number of settlers living there. Such acts raise tensions and undermine prospects for peace. During my visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 5-8 October, I discussed my strong concerns about the issue of settlements and land expropriation with the Israeli Justice Minister on 6 October. Discussions are continuing in Brussels on how the EU can best discourage settlement expansion, and the UK is working closely with other Member States to that end.

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will support proposals in the EU to apply sanctions on the Israeli government if it goes ahead with plans to relocate 12,000 Bedouins in a new town in the Jordan Valley without their consent.

Answer: Mr Tobias Ellwood During my recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I visited the E1 area and met members of the Bedouin community living there who face relocation by the Israeli authorities. They told me that they had no wish to leave, and expressed their fears of being forcibly transferred to make way for the construction of Israeli settlements. Such a move would seriously threaten the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state, and according to the UN would be contrary to international humanitarian law. Discussions are continuing in Brussels on how the EU can best discourage settlement expansion, and the UK is working closely with other Member States to that end.

 

British Army trains Israeli soldiers to operate drones

 UK urges transfer of Area C to Palestine

 Written questions

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for which periods officers in the armed forces have been trained on the operation and use of drone technology in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the last two years.

Mr Mark Francois Answered on: 19 November 2014 In the last two years training on the unarmed HERMES 450 Unmanned Aircraft System has been conducted by Army personnel in Israel on a regular basis. The last training took place in July 2014. This training was a mixture of individual and pre-deployment training for HERMES operators, and technical training for support personnel. Over this period, more than 270 personnel received training by the civilian contractor in Israel. No training has been conducted within the Occupied Palestinian territories.

 

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the peace process of differences in how the application of planning regulations apply to settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 17 November 2014 The British Government regularly raises concerns regarding the Israeli building and planning regime in Area C with the Israeli Government. The UK has also called publicly on Israel to take steps towards the transfer of authority over Area C to the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian development in Area C is essential for a sustainable Palestinian economy, yet only 1% of Area C is zoned for Palestinian construction and a large portion of this land is already built-up. The UK will therefore continue to press Israel to ease the current restrictive permitting regime and to transfer control of Area C to the Palestinian Authority as per the Oslo accords. The Israeli Non-Governmental Organisation Peace Now has identified the building and demolition decisions in Area C. Between 2000 and 2007 the Israeli Civil Administration approved only 91 of 1,624 Palestinian applications. During the same period Israeli settlers built over 18,000 homes in the same area. We assess that this does not help efforts towards peace.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) Asked on: 29 August 2014: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) British citizens, (b) British residents holding dual passports and (c) British residents holding foreign passports who left the UK in 2014 to fight for the (i) Israeli Defence Force in Gaza.

James Brokenshire Answered on: 20 November 2014 We do not hold data on British nationals fighting with the Israeli Defence Force: many foreign nationals (including British nationals) serve in the IDF, and also hold dual (Israeli) nationality.

Mr George Galloway (Bradford West) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Israeli government condemning its (a) closure of the al-Aqsa mosque and other parts of the al-Sharif site in Jerusalem and (b) plan to build 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 11 November 2014 Our Ambassador to Tel Aviv delivered a clear message to the Israeli Cabinet Secretary on 30 October, advocating reopening of the mosque. The mosque re-opened on 31 October for men over 50 and for women. I issued a statement on 29 October condemning the announcement of plans for 1,060 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political-Military Adviser, senior contacts at the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support her Department has provided for trained psychosocial counsellors to help children in Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 DFID is funding a range of mental health and psychosocial support initiatives in Gaza, including psychosocial care for 3000 children and 1500 mothers, psychological training for 120 child carers, and psychotherapy for 900 severely traumatised children. The UK is also one of the largest donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which is providing psychosocial support and activities for children through its extensive network of schools.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what estimate she has made of the cost of the reconstruction of Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 Assessments led by the Palestinian Authority, and carried out in conjunction with the United Nations and other partners, estimate the total cost of relief, recovery and reconstruction to be around $4 billion.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assistance her Department has provided for British physicians and nurses working on short missions in Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 DFID provided support for an initial medical assessment in Gaza carried out by a team of British medical staff in August, and further support to take forward their recommendation for a small team of British specialists with trauma, orthopaedic and reconstructive skills to make follow-up visits to Gaza. We are also providing support for specialists in orthopaedic trauma, neurology, burns and amputation, drawn from the UK’s International Emergency Trauma Register, to provide highly specialised training, equipment and supervision for rehabilitation in Gaza.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the extent of damage to basic infrastructure and housing in Gaza arising from the recent conflict.

Mr Desmond Swayne The UN has estimated that 18,000 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged in the conflict and that 44,300 other housing units sustained some damage. The UN estimates that 20-30% of the water and sewage network was damaged, and reports extensive damage to the Gaza Power Plant and internal electricity grid, telecommunications and internet infrastructure, as well as factories and commercial buildings.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what emergency aid her Department is providing for Gazans whose homes have been destroyed in the recent conflict.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 The UK was one of the biggest donors to Gaza this summer, providing more than £17 million in emergency assistance to deliver lifesaving food, clean water, shelter and medical assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the fighting. We have also pledged £20 million in early recovery assistance, which includes support for shelter and basic services, short-term employment to help with reconstruction, clearance of explosive remnants of war, and funding for the UN mechanism to import construction materials.

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department provides to ensure Hamas does not acquire construction materials for terror purposes.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The UK, as a donor, follows very carefully the course of internationally provided construction materials into Gaza, and we are confident in the effectiveness of the new UN agreed monitoring mechanism. Imports of construction materials, including concrete, are currently only permitted for UN-led humanitarian projects with strict controls mitigating the risk of transfer of materials for use other than that intended. There remains a clear need for further legitimate construction work in Gaza.

Mr Mark Williams (Ceredigion) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise with his Israeli counterpart the death of Bahaa Samir Badir in Beit Liqiya on 16 October 2014.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The Government has repeatedly expressed concerns to Israel about the appropriate use of force, including the use of live ammunition, by the Israel Defence Force and Police, as well as the need for Israel to implement the recommendations of the Turkel Commission on improving how the Israeli authorities investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law. We will continue to do so as long as this remains an issue of concern.

Mr Mark Williams (Ceredigion) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports he has received on attacks by the Israeli Ground Force and Navy on farmers and fishermen in Gaza in October 2014; and if he will raise this matter with his Israeli counterpart.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The IDF has demarcated a 6-mile radius at the western nautical border. The demarcation of the northern border is not as clear to fishermen and this border area is the site of many incidents. During Operation Protective Edge, we raised our concern with the IDF several times over incidents in which fishermen were reportedly shot. The IDF maintained that the Israeli Navy fired only warning shots into the air when the fishermen ventured over the nautical border. We have received unconfirmed reports from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem on attacks in October. We have not raised the October incidents with the Israeli authorities, but continue to monitor developments closely.

Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of reports of bomb attacks against Fatah officials in the Gaza strip.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was concerned by reports of bomb attacks targeting Fatah officials in Gaza on 7 November. Investigations have been launched in Gaza into who was responsible.

Mr George Galloway (Bradford West) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Israeli government condemning its (a) closure of the al-Aqsa mosque and other parts of the al-Sharif site in Jerusalem and (b) plan to build 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 11 November 2014 Our Ambassador to Tel Aviv delivered a clear message to the Israeli Cabinet Secretary on 30 October, advocating reopening of the mosque. The mosque re-opened on 31 October for men over 50 and for women. I issued a statement on 29 October condemning the announcement of plans for 1,060 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political-Military Adviser, senior contacts at the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office.

Baroness Tonge To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of Israel concerning its alleged weapons testing, including of dense inert metal explosives, during Operation Protective Edge. [HL2634]

Baroness Anelay (Con): While we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities, there must be a robust process of accountability given the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza. Israel has confirmed plans to form their own investigative committee which we understand will be mandated to investigate the proportionality of Israel Defence Forces actions. To be credible, the committee must be independent, transparent and rigorous, and must draw on lessons from the past to examine how Israel can in future exercise its right to self-defence without such heavy civilian loss of life.

 

EDM 521 – MEDICS WORKING IN GAZA DURING AND SINCE OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE IN GAZA

Tabled on 18.11.14 by Jeremy Corbyn MP

That this House applauds the exemplary work of all health professionals in Gaza, be they medics, social workers, occupational therapists, ambulance teams and others who continue to look after the 12,000 injured, including 3,374 children, long after the media have taken their cameras away from the one vantage point permitted them during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge attack on Gaza in August and September 2014; notes the death toll of 2,200 Palestinians, 1,500 civilians including 500 children, and 71 Israelis, five civilians; further notes that many of the injured are now permanently disabled and will require a lifetime of physical and psychological rehabilitation; commends all those who have donated their services to looking after the people of Gaza; deplores in particular the conduct of the Israeli authorities in refusing entry to Gaza of medical personnel from abroad including the indefatigable and determined Norwegian surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert who repeatedly works in Gaza whilst it is under attack, and who is the latest victim of such unjust treatment; and calls on the Government to press the Israeli government to respect international law and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and to lift the siege on Gaza.