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Middle East

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon 2:30 pm, 3rd May 2011

What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

It is vital to acknowledge that no true stability can result from the repression of legitimate demands for political participation and the rule of law. Nothing can justify the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. We are supporting peaceful reform in Tunisia and Egypt, just as we are opposing violence elsewhere and urging all Governments in the region to respond positively to popular calls for better governance.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon

The security of the middle east depends on many factors, one of which is a responsible but independent media. With that in mind, I was shocked to see that, throughout yesterday, al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel, which broadcasts “Al-Jazeera English Live” in this country, allowed messages of hate, violence and revenge against the west to be posted on its coverage. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that broadcasting such messages is highly irresponsible and, indeed, illegal?

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I did not see the reports to which my hon. Friend refers. Clearly, he has seen reports that he found very disturbing and I hope that he will take those up directly with al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera now broadcasts a very wide variety of material, but I hope that it will in no way encourage hate or the commissioning of crimes; we must be vigilant against that.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour, Ilford South

Further to an earlier answer, what assessment has the Foreign Secretary made of the internal politics of Hamas and of whether there are conflicting voices—on the one hand about building a technocratic Government and conducting elections on a unity basis and, on the other hand, supporting and praising bin Laden?

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

It would be surprising if there were not differing voices and internal tensions on these subjects. Clearly, many issues are moving in the middle east, with the changed situation in Egypt and pressure on the Syrian Government. Hamas has been encouraged by the new Government in Egypt to enter into the political reconciliation with Fatah, as discussed earlier. I believe that it might also feel less secure in its position in Syria. These are forces now at work on Hamas, and it is important in the light of the changes in the middle east that, as the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend Alistair Burt has been saying, it makes concrete movement towards acceptance of Quartet principles, which the whole world looks to it to respect.