Parliament was recalled unexpectedly for one day to vote on whether to support airstrikes in Iraq. These are the parts of the Parliamentary discussion that day that relate directly to Palestine.
FRIDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2014
1. Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL debate:
– Jim Sheridan: [intervening on Ed Miliband] “My right hon. Friend is absolutely right in supporting this motion, but may I press him on our role in the world and how it is perceived by people outside? This hokey-cokey approach to international conflicts concerns many people who have just seen thousands of innocent Palestinians murdered while we stood on the sidelines. Will he confirm to the House that he will show the same commitment, and push for resources, to get a satisfactory conclusion in Palestine?”
– Ed Miliband: “I agree that it is right to speak out on these issues—and to speak out without fear or favour—and to pursue the two-state solution that we need.”
– Peter Hain: [excerpt] “That Iran gave its de facto if covert blessing is of significance, opening an opportunity for future engagement and collaboration which could be transformative for the whole region, Israel-Palestine included.”
– Jack Dromey: [intervening on Alistair Burt] “Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, on the one hand, it is of the highest importance for us to work with and support progressive elements in the Muslim community nationally and internationally and resist the demonisation of the Muslim community, and that, on the other hand, a regional political settlement must include a two-state solution?” [excerpt]
– Alistair Burt: “I shall not respond to the hon. Gentleman’s second point.” [excerpt]
– Cheryl Gillan: “We also need to be careful not to isolate our Muslim communities in our own country. Up and down this country, in the mosques and in our constituents’ homes, they are as concerned as we are about what is happening in Gaza, Israel, Iraq and Syria. We must not leave them behind.” [excerpt]
– Martin Horwood: What we need is a long-term plan. “It has to apply across the region, where we should seek every opportunity to support moderate, democratic opinion—including in Israel-Palestine, where we should give more support more consistently to Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to pursue the path of peace, not of bombs, rockets and massacres.”
2. Iraq: Motion to Take Note:
– Baroness Falkner: Says she would have preferred it if the UK had engaged in a regional conference to bring about a sustainable end to the ME conflict that would have involved a renewed effort in Israel-Palestine.
– Lord Hylton: Says we should learn from the failures of Israel in its wars in Lebanon and in Gaza and that positive ideas will be crucial during the containment phase to rebuild Iraq, Syria and Palestine.
– Baroness Uddin: [excerpt] “I find it worrying that our Government are so easily able to find the harsh language of condemnation on this occasion and yet have felt unable to condemn the brutal killings that took place at the hands of the Israeli military only last month and which cost the lives of 2,000 Muslim women, children and men. The Government were unable to utter even the word “disproportionate” when describing the meaningless slaughter and devastation, despite unequivocal condemnation and accusations of war crimes from the United Nations. I am mindful of the heartfelt concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, as she took the bold step of resigning from the Government, stating that the Government’s position on the crisis in Gaza was morally indefensible.”
– Lord Stone: [excerpt] “I have been privileged to be in discussions over these past few months while I have been in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Egypt. They have been developing a regional plan to end the war there in talks involving Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, whereby the first four of those—the local Arab countries—agree to demilitarise Gaza, with the promise of, say, $50 billion from donors to reconstruct and heal the strip for the benefit of all the people there, and to link this with projects in the West Bank. Israel then feels safe, and Gaza is therefore able to have a sea port, airport and open access. Then the Arab peace initiative, first proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, becomes a real basis for Israel to be recognised by 22 Arab countries, including Palestine; and for Israel to recognise Palestine.”
– Lord Pearson: Refers to aspects of sharia law imposed also by Hamas.
[NB: Although the Lords, like the Commons, are officially in recess during the party conference season, yesterday they returned for the debate on Iraq . Today’s House of Lords Hansard report covered not just the debate but also an accumulated list of Written Answers to Written Questions which Peers tabled over the last few weeks. That some of them are signed by Baroness Warsi, who resigned from the front bench on 5th August, merely indicates the size of the backlog.]
1. Lord Judd: Have HMG had discussions with G4S about its adherence to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention as it applies to the detention of Palestinian prisoners inside Israel; and what was the outcome of any such discussions?
2. Lord Hylton: Will HMG use the calls of the families of those killed in Israel and Palestine for non-violence as a means to promote verified ceasefires and the adherence by all parties to the norms of international law?
3. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of Hamas’ offer of a 10-year truce?
4. Marquess of Lothian: What recent representations have HMG made to Israel about their ground incursion into Gaza ?
5. Baroness Uddin: What is HMG’s assessment of how civilians in Gaza can best be protected?
6. Baroness Deech: Have HMG made representations to UNWRA concerning the storage of rockets in its facilities in Gaza and its arrangements for their disposal?
7. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the capability of hospitals in Gaza to cope with the numbers of injured?
8. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the alleged delivery of medical equipment and drugs to hospitals in Gaza by the IDF; and whether the EU will provide emergency medical staff to assist with the casualties in Gaza ?
9. Lord Ahmed: What is HMG’s estimate of the total number of dual national British–Israeli citizens serving in the IDF and what is their estimate of the number of British citizens engaged in operations against the Palestinian people in Gaza?
10. Lord Ahmed: Do HMG intend to take any action against those British citizens serving in the IDF? 11. Lord Ahmed: Have HMG published any information for the British citizens travelling to Israel regarding the possibility of their involvement in operations in Gaza ? Nos 9-11
12. Lord Warner: What assessment have HMG made of the number of Israeli civilians killed and wounded as a result of rockets fired at Israeli cities in the past fortnight; what assessment have they made of the number of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza who have been killed and wounded as a result of the latest military intervention by Israel in Gaza; and what proportion of those Palestinian casualties do they estimate were children?
13. Baroness Uddin: What is HMG’s response to the statement by the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights that Israel ‘s latest military offensive in Gaza “could amount to war crimes”? 14. Lord Hylton: What representations are HMG making to Israel concerning the reported shooting of unarmed Palestinian civilians in the West Bank between 25 and 26 July by both the IDF and by settlers? 15. Lord Hylton: Do HMG intend to assess the impact of prolonged attacks on Gaza on the mental health of the population and on water supplies? 16. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the Palestinians reportedly killed and injured during West Bank protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza ?
17. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made as to whether the shelling of the Ash Shuja’iyeh district, the UN school compound and Al Shifa and Al Wafah hospitals should be investigated as possible war crimes?
18. Lord Ahmed: Have HMG sent emergency aid for the children of Gaza including medical aid, food and shelter?
19. Baroness Uddin: What steps are HMG taking to provide medical aid in Gaza , in particular to hospitals treating injured civilians?
20. Baroness Tonge: What action will HMG take to encourage a total lifting of the blockade of Gaza ?
21. Baroness Tonge: What was the value of UK arms sales to Israel in the last 12 months, including cryptographic equipment; and what assessment have HMG made of the use of such arms for internal repression or external aggression?
22. Lord Warner: Will HMG take action to place an arms embargo on Israel ?
23. Lord Hylton: Do HMG intend to initiate dialogues, whether under their own auspices or those of other neutral states, between Israelis and Palestinians, along the lines suggested by Mr David Grossman in the International New York Times of 29 July?
24. Lord Jones of Cheltenham: What representations have HMG made to Israel about the bombardment of Gaza ?
25. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of allegations that the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge has deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure?26. Lord Warner: What action will HMG take to secure an independent international investigation of the level of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza arising from Israel ‘s military intervention to establish whether breaches of international law have occurred? 27. Lord Warner: What action do HMG intend to take internationally to require Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza ? Nos 23-27
28. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Nigeria concerning a reported military attack on pro-Palestinian protesters at the annual Al Quds Day rally?
29. Lord Warner: What further action do HMG plan to take internationally to ban the trade in goods and services from Israel ‘s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories? Read in Hansard>
30. Lord Hylton: Do HMG intend to ask Egypt to re-open the Rafah crossing for the evacuation of severely injured people from Gaza ?
31. Lord Alton: What assessment have HMG made of reports that Hamas militants are attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment?
32. Lord Hylton: What assessment have HMG made of the practical and humanitarian consequences of the damage recently done to the large electricity plant in Gaza ?
Nos 30-32 Read in Hansard>
33. Lord Laird: What is HMG’s definition of a nation? [Baroness Anelay: The normal criteria for recognition of a nation or state are set out in the Written Answer by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 16 November 1989, House of Commons Hansard Official Report, Column 494, noted below for ease of reference: “The normal criteria that we apply for recognition as a state are that it should have, and seem likely to continue to have, a clearly defined territory with a population, a Government who are able of themselves to exercise effective control of that territory, and independence in their external relations. Other factors, including some United Nations resolutions, may also be relevant.”]
34. Lord Laird: What is HMG’s definition of a war crime? [Baroness Anelay: “The definition of a war crime is set out in the International Criminal Court Act 2001, section 50 and Schedule 8 (which sets out the terms of Article 8.2 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court).”]
35. Baroness Uddin: What assessment have HMG made of the statement by the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, that “there seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” by Israel in Gaza; and have they made any representations to the UN about that statement?
36. Lord Warner: At the time of the latest ceasefire, how many Palestinian civilians had been killed and injured as a result of Israel ’s military action in Gaza ; how many of those casualties were children; and what were the comparable figures for Israeli civilian casualties from Palestinian military action in the same period?
37. Lord Warner: Do HMG now consider that the recent military action by Israel in Gaza is proportionate, as defined in the Joint Service Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict; and will they publish their assessment of the proportionality of that action?38. Lord Warner: Do HMG regard that the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is a requirement for avoiding “a return to the status quo ante” as set out in an earlier ministerial Written Answer? [ed: No 27 above]Nos 35-38 Read in Hansard>
39. Baroness Deech: In the light of the discovery of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, what assessment have HMG made of the measures put in place by the UN to avoid the diversion of materials imported into Gaza, in particular concrete, from humanitarian use? Read in Hansard>
40. Lord Blencathra: Do HMG intend to create a specific, indictable offence with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, for British subjects offering support to, or participating in, any foreign army, organisation or military unit which is not a member of NATO? Read in Hansard>
41. Lord Hylton: What representations are HMG making to Israel about the case of Ms Khalidah Jarrar, a member of the PLC; and what assessment have they made of the reasons why Israel seeks to expel her from Ramallah and exile her to Jericho?
42. Lord Hylton: What assessment have HMG made of the number of PLC members now imprisoned or detained in Israel, and are they making representations about the arrests of Mr Bassem al Za’areer from near Hebron on 22 August and of Mr Hisham Muhammad Abu Zgheib, Secretary-General of Fatah in Tulkarem refugee camp, on 27 August? [Baroness Anelay of St Johns : “The Government understands that there are 36 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council being detained by the Israeli authorities.” (excerpt)]
43. Lord Warner: What assessment have HMG made of the condition of the civilian population of Gaza in relation to hunger, shelter, clean water, sewage disposal, access to medicines and supply of electricity following Israeli military action in Gaza in recent months, and will they publish their assessment?
44. Lord Warner: Has the level of humanitarian aid to Gaza from UK public funds changed in the current financial year, and, if so, by how much?
Read in Hansard>
45. Lord Hylton: Has the official NHS medical team promised by the Prime Minister reached Gaza yet; have volunteer British doctors been refused access to Gaza via Israel, and, if so, what action are HMG are taking on the doctors’ behalf? [Baroness Northover: “A team of medical staff from the UK visited Gaza and East Jerusalem in August to assess the need for specialist medical support. A team was given access to Gaza via Israel to access medical facilities in both locations to assess capacity and recommend future UK assistance.” [ed: NB not clear from this if the NHS doctors have actually reached Gaza yet] Read in Hansard>
Lords (Accumulated) Written Answers