Foreign Office Questions – November

 

Tabling Wednesday November 16th 12.30 pm
Questions Tuesday November 22nd 11.30 am
# Question Context Follow-up
1
What discussions he has had with the US government over a United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Palestine conflict
UN vote possible between US election (Nov 8) and inauguration (Jan 20) on resolution calling for freeze on settlements and/or setting out timetable for peace process
Will the UK support a resolution calling for freeze on settlements and for peace talks on the basis of “1967 borders”?
2
What action he will take in response to the announcement by the Israeli prime minister of a new illegal settlement at Shiloh in the West Bank
Netanyahu has announced 98 (eventually 300) new homes next to existing illegal Shiloh settlement to decant settlers evicted from Amona outpost on orders of High Court
When will the Foreign Secretary understand that it’s not enough to make “representations” about illegal settlements which are growing fast and action is needed?
3
Whether he will support a resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a freeze on building in illegal Israeli settlements on similar lines to the resolution of February 18 2011
14 out of 15 nations on UN Security Council voted for resolution calling for freeze on illegal settlements in 2011, including UK, France and Germany. Only US voted against – vetoing it. US may lift veto in re-run vote.
Will the UK maintain its support for this resolution? UK declaration of support would strengthen voices in US calling on Obama to lift veto and give UN a mandate to push talks forward. 
4
Whether he will offer his support to Hagai El-Ad of the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem for his address to the United Nations Security Council on settlements 
After El-Ad’s speech calling for international sanctions against Israel, Netanyahu imposed sanctions on B’Tselem. A US government spokesman responded that all countries should “protect freedoms of expression”.
Will the UK join the US in praising the human rights work of B’Tselem and in opposing any attempts to silence them or sanction them for opposing illegal settlements and the occupation?
5
Will he express his concern at the threats from Israeli politicians to revoke the citizenship of Hagai El-Ad of the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem for speaking to the United Nations Security Council session on settlements
A senior MP in the Israeli government coalition called for El-Ad’s Israeli citizenship to be revoked and a former Israeli Labour Party MP called for him to be charged with treason.
Will the UK continue to support B’Tselem and other Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations?
6
What discussions he has had over the timing of the UK’s recognition of the state of Palestine
Since 2012 the UK has been committed to recognising Palestine in principle “at a moment of our choosing” and the right time to “play the recognition card” will be when it has maximum effect.
Have any talks been held with the French or Irish governments on the timing of a statement on recognition?
7
What criteria he will use to determine the right time to recognise Palestine; and if he will make a statement
Ministers have implied the right time will be when it can be done  in co-ordination with other European countries
Since the UK has agreed in principle to recognise Palestine, what is to be gained by delaying an announcement?
8
Whether public bodies are covered by his advice on the UKTI website not to trade with illegal settlements in the West Bank 
The government trade website warns firms they “do not encourage or support” trade with illegal settlements but public procurement guidance to councils warns them against taking any decision not to trade with settlements.
Will the minister urge UK firms to follow the advice on the UKTI website not to conduct any business with firms of individuals in illegal Israeli settlements?
9
Whether the UK missions in Israel and Palestine purchase goods sourced in illegal settlements
Media reports have stated that UK diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem do not buy settlement goods.
If the UK missions consider it advisable not to buy goods from illegal settlements, why are they not following that advice? 
10
Whether he has discussed plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration with the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments
November 2017 is the centenary of British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour’s promise “to view with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” provided it can be done without “prejudicing the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. 
Given that the first half of the Balfour promise was achieved but the second half was not, does he not agree that any celebration of this anniversary is in danger of inflaming an already tense situation?
11
What action he intends to take over demolitions in the village of Khan al-Ahmar 
Despite visits by many UK ministers and MPs, eight homes in the Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmar were demolished in October to make way for expansion of an illegal settlement.
Since protests by ministers and MPs have failed to stop the planned demolition of this village, does the Minister agree that stronger action is now necessary?
12
What discussions he has held with the Palestinian Authority over the suspension of aid
International development secretary Priti Patel has suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority pending an inquiry into welfare payments to prisoners’ families.
Does he accept that if the Palestine Liberation Organisation stopped welfare payments to prisoners’ families, this would probably ensure a Hamas victory at the next Palestinian election?
13
What assessment he has made of the reputational risk to the UK government of failing to act against illegal settlements
In December 2013 the government website warned UK firms of the ‘reputational risk’ if they traded with illegal Israeli settlements.
Why doesn’t the Government do what it advises business to do and stop trading with firms active in the illegal Israel settlements? 
14
Whether he will protest to the Israeli government over their plan to demolish the Bedouin village of Umm Al Hiran in order to build a Jewish village of Hiran
The Government has only expressed ‘concern’ over the Netanyahu’s plan to bulldoze an Israeli Bedouin village so it can build Jewish-only village in its place.
Will he protest against the Israel government’s treatment of the Bedouin and Palestinian minorities inside Israel just as strongly as in Jerusalem and the West Bank?
15
What his advice is to UK banks that conduct business with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories
The Government policy of “not supporting or encouraging” should also apply to banks that are financially active in settlements
What research has he conducted to discover which Israeli or UK banks are financially active in illegal settlements?
11 questions that MPs can ask the International Development Secretary
International Development questions

Tabling Thursday November 10th 12.30 pm

Questions Wednesday November 16th 11.30 am

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con): What support her Department provides to projects facilitating peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis.

Aid Minister Desmond Swayne): We support projects that bring Palestinians and Israelis together, to which end we have made provision for funding through our conflict, security and stability fund to support co-existence projects, but I am keen to identify what more we can do.

Stephen Metcalfe: Why do he and his Department think that it is a good use of taxpayers’ money to continue to support the Palestinian Authority?

Sir Desmond Swayne: The reason why we think it is a good idea to support the Palestinian Authority is that they deliver essential public services, not least healthcare and the education of 770,000 pupils. I believe that it is in our national interest to build up Palestinian institutions so that in a future Palestinian state, they can be reliable and effective partners for peace.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): Will the Minister join me in recognising the contribution to peaceful co-existence of Israelis who speak uncomfortable truths, whether that be the Mayor of Tel Aviv speaking out against occupation, the veterans of Breaking the Silence speaking out against the reality of occupation, or Peace Now mapping settlements that are undermining the chances of a two-state solution?

Sir Desmond Swayne: Yes, and I am concerned about any potential closing of space for non-governmental organisations.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): Has he examined Save a Child’s Heart, an initiative by the Israeli Government to treat Palestinian children and save their lives?

Sir Desmond Swayne: Yes, I hosted a delegation of Members from across the House who brought this excellent organisation to my attention recently, and my officials are conducting due diligence.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Priti Patel freezes £25 million aid to Palestine Authority
The new International Development Secretary Priti Patel has frozen a transfer of £25 million out of the £72 million annual aid to Palestine – until the conclusion of an investigation into whether any of the money has been passed to the families of prisoners.

This follows questions from MPs from Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel targeting the UK’s aid programme to Palestine, which goes roughly in thirds to the United Nations refugee agency, the Palestine Authority and co-existence projects.

Both DfID and the Palestine Authority say none of the money from UK taxpayers is used to pay welfare benefits to prisoners’ families, but the MPs argue that UK aid allows them to use more of their own income to make these payments.

There are five answers to this:

The first is humanitarian. Welfare payments go to families of

prisoners, not prisoners. In answer to similar questions former

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