|2015||2016 so far*||annual rate|
|Buildings demolished||531||586||+ 383%|
|People evicted||688||800||+ 403%|
|*Jan 1 – Apr 18|
Month: April 2016
Marwan Barghouthi could bring peace and independence to Palestine. But he’s in jail.
- A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research’s poll found that if a presidetial election were held and Abbas did not run, 32 % would prefer to see Barghouti replace him, nearly 20 per cent Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, 8 % Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, 6% Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, 6% Muhammad Dahlan, 4% chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and 3% former prime minister Salam Fayyad.
- The poll was conducted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from September 17 to 19, covered 1,270 adults and had a 3-percentage point margin of error.
Early day motion 1378
RELEASE OF PALESTINIAN MP MARWAN BARGHOUTHI
Smuggled out of jail: Guardian article by Marwan Barghouthi on latest violence
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions Tuesday April 12th 11.30 am
Conservative MP David Mowat said the Israeli government was “showing complete contempt for the notion of a two-state solution” by accelerating the rate of demolitions and evictions of Palestinians since the start of this year.
According to the UN there had been 446 demolitions in the West Bank by April 4th compared with 447 in the whole of last year, so the rate of demolitions had quadrupled.
Given that 120 of the demolished buildings were funded by EU or other donors, Labour MP Richard Burdenasked the Minister how he was going to claim compensation from Israel.
David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): In 2016, there has been an acceleration of evictions and property destruction on the West Bank. By these continuing actions, the Israeli Government are showing complete contempt for the notion of a two-state solution—a fact recognised by President Carter. When will the Government update UK policy to reflect reality on the ground in this area?
Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood: During my meetings with the Deputy Foreign Minister and indeed with the Prime Minister, I found that they remained committed to the two-state solution, but he is right to recognise that measures are being taken and events are taking place that seem to take us in another direction. We need to ensure that people are able to come back to the table, and that we are able to make progress. There is no other solution to this. We cannot continue with the status quo.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): The Minister will know that Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes and other structures at three times the rate at which it did so last year. Given that a number of these structures are EU-supported and EU-funded, what are the Government going to do not simply to express concern but to hold Israel to account? What mechanisms are available to do so?
[The Minister did not reply, but the UN estimates 120 donor-funded buildings have been demolished by the Israeli Army so far this year and aid minister Baroness Verma said in a written answer in the Lords on March 12: “The EU is proposing to reassess their position on seeking compensation from the Israeli Government….. The UK government remains extremely concerned by reports that there have been nearly 300 demolitions since the start of 2016, representing more than a trebling of demolitions compared to the monthly average in 2015. The Embassy in Tel Aviv have recently raised demolitions with the Israeli authorities and will continue to raise this at the political level.”]
Mr Ellwood: He highlights a challenge that we face. Britain has been working closely with Israel to change the approach that Israelis have taken on administrative detention. We have also funded and facilitated independent reports on the challenges that we face, and I raised this matter with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely. I will continue to press Israel to move forward. Again, this takes us back—it is a retrograde step.
Early day motion 1245
DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES BY ISRAEL
- Session: 2015-16
- Date tabled: 14.03.2016
- Primary sponsor: Duncan, Alan
That this House condemns the major escalation in demolitions by the Israeli government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
notes that 293 structural demolitions have taken place in the first six weeks of 2016, including numerous homes; expresses concern for the devastating effects such demolitions have on innocent civilians;
further notes that in 2015, 447 Palestinian structures were demolished; notes that, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between 2010 and 2014 only 1.5 per cent of the over 2,000 Palestinian building permit requests were approved in Area C of the West Bank, leading to 10,000 present standing demolition orders;
notes Israel’s continued uses of demolition as a means of collectively punishing Palestinians; welcomes the EU’s continued opposition to Israel’s illegal settlements, home demolitions, confiscation and evictions;
notes that the home demolitions have included EU-funded structures; calls on the Government to condemn these latest demolitions and the continued expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and demands reparations for the destruction.
Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel Eric Pickles again raised the issue of streets – and in this case a school basketball tournament – being named after Palestinian “terrorists”, as though it were something that only Palestinians did.
- Scores of streets in Israel are named after Jewish “terrorists”, including a suburb of Jerusalem where all the streets are named after members of Jewish militias who were hanged for “terrorism” by the British.
- Indeed, every country that has fought for its independence glorifies its “soldiers” who lost their lives.
In the city of Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv is a monument commemorating members of the two underground organisations Irgun and Lehi, who were tried in British Mandate courts and sentenced to death by hanging, some for attacks on British soldiers, others for attacks on Arab civilians. They are regarded as martyrs and streets are named after them in most Israeli cities.
On a hillside overlooking Hebron is the grave of Dr Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 people as they prayed in the Abraham Mosque. Settlers regard him as a martyr and gather on the anniversary to sing songs in praise of him. One of the songs says: “Dr. Goldstein, he aimed at terrorists’ heads, squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets, and shot, and shot.” The ceremonial plaza around the grave was dismantled by the Israeli army, but the park and walkway remain in place.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas flies to New York on April 22 determined to press the UN Security Council to a vote condemning the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as an obstacle to peace.
Former Middle East minister Ben Bradshaw among MPs urging support
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has held talks with the French to explore the idea of a peace conference in Paris this summer to start serious discussion on a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Former Middle East minister Ben Bradshaw (right) and Tom Sheppard and Paul Monaghan of the SNP are among the MPs who have pressed him to consider supporting the initiative of the French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Ben Bradshaw wrote to the Foreign Secretary and was told: “We are discussing with the French to explore their idea, which is still at an early stage…. We will continue to engage with the French as they develop their plans.”
Mr Hammond met the French special envoy for the initiative, Pierre Vimont, to discuss how the idea would work in practice.
MPs have an opportunity to urge Mr Hammond to give the UK’s full support to a Franco-British peace initiative at Foreign Office questions on Tuesday April 12th.
The French Foreign Minister hopes to call a gathering of supportive countries in Paris to lay the groundwork for a peace conference in the summer.
This is supported by the Palestinians, by the EU foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini and by several European countries including the Spanish and Italians, but will have a far better chance of success with UK support.
The plan was first put forward by the outgoing French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, who also warned that – if this initiative fails – France will recognise Palestine.
His successor Jean-Marc Ayrault has said recognition will not follow “automatically” if Israel refuses to participate – in order to give the conference a better chance of success.
But if talks don’t take place, or break up, it is difficult to see what logical step remains other than a co-ordinated recognition of Palestine by the UK, France and other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Ireland and Belgium.
The state of Palestine is already recognised by 136 countries (out of 193), inclding ten in the EU, and a joint move by the UK, France and others would send a clear message without in any way changing the UK’s formal relationship with Israel, which it has recognised since 1950. It would also impose responsibilities on the Palestinians.
This is the time for British MPs of all parties to make the case to the Foreign Secretary.
President Obama has made it clear he will make no further moves on the Israel-Palestine in the remainder of his term – though he has hinted he might lift his veto on a Security Council resolution.
The EU Council of Ministers is unlikely to be able to agree an initiative between all 28 countries – there will always be an East European country voting against – so the responsibility falls to the major West European powers.
We all know why Germany will not take the lead, and France has already put forward an initiative, so it is now up to the UK to say whether it will join with the French. There is no longer any excuse for sitting on the fence.
It is important for the UK not only to back the conference this summer but also to support the French position that – if Israel does not engage realistically in the talks – there will be a concerted move to recognise Palestine before the end of the year.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions Tuesday April 12th 11.30 am
- Question 7 David Mowat (Warrington South): What recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of a two-state solution in the Middle East.
- Question 9 Chris Philp (Croydon South): What recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the EU, Africa and the Middle East on steps to tackle the refugee crisis in the Middle East.
- Question 15 Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East): What representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the use of administrative detention in that country.