Palestinian Authority Television — Question

– in the House of Lords at 11:23 am on 23rd March 2016.

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Photo of Lord Polak Lord Polak Conservative 11:23 am, 23rd March 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Palestinian Authority following the broadcast of programmes on official Palestinian Authority television encouraging violence against Israeli citizens.

Photo of Lord Polak Lord Polak Conservative

I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and give notice to the House of my non-financial registered interest as president of CFI.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, we regularly raise incitement with the Palestinian Authority. The Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, did so during his visit to the region in February. The UK’s consul-general to Jerusalem last discussed incitement with President Abbas on 17 March, including our concerns about television broadcasts. We also raise incitement with Israel. We encourage the revival of a tripartite committee on incitement to address precisely these issues.

Photo of Lord Polak Lord Polak Conservative

I thank the Minister for her Answer. Since September 2015, ironically, 34 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks and there have been 206 stabbings, 83 shootings and 42 car rammings. Is the Minister aware that only three weeks ago—on 1 March—on a programme on the official PATV called “Children’s Talk”, a young girl recited a poem which included the line: “To war, that will smash the oppressor and destroy the Zionist soul”? Can the Minister be certain that this sort of appalling incitement is not supported directly or indirectly by the British taxpayer? On the day after the atrocities and shocking acts in Brussels, where another 34 innocent lives were snuffed out, will the Minister join me in condemning incitement and terror, wherever it occurs?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, I do indeed join my noble friend in condemning incitement and terrorism wherever it occurs. It was a mark of respect from this House that at 11 am today we had one minute’s silence in memory of the appalling events with the murder of those in Brussels. I know the Prime Minister has said that we will do all we can to help there. I also note that both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed their opposition to the terrorism that had taken place in Brussels.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, if I may just answer the mainstay of my noble friend’s question, he asked about expenditure by the British taxpayer. No expenditure by the British taxpayer supports any form of incitement or terrorism, either in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We support projects that support peace, such as the project by the NGO Kids Creating Peace, which brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn why peace works.

Photo of Baroness Stowell of Beeston Baroness Stowell of Beeston Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal

My Lords, we have plenty of time to go around the House. The House was not indicating who it wanted to hear from next but I suggest that we go to the Labour Benches, if among them they could decide who they would like to go first.

Photo of Lord Winston Lord Winston Labour

My Lords, is the Minister aware that I have a film clip on my computer—I am happy to show it to her—which shows a little girl aged three-and-a-half saying on Saudi television that she hates Jews because they are apes and monkeys, and this is what is repeated in the Koran? Then, straight to camera, the announcer says, “Is Allah to be praised that, Bismillah, this little girl, has such supporters after her?”. This was broadcast across a whole range of Arab countries. Will the Minister perhaps join me in condemning this kind of broadcast quite publicly? I am happy to send her the film.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, noble Lords around the House have made me aware of matters of incitement that have been broadcast, not only on television and media outside the Occupied Territories and Israel but within both. We give no equivalence to incitement, whether it is against those who are Israelis or those who are in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What we say is that incitement is wrong.

Photo of Lord Wright of Richmond Lord Wright of Richmond Crossbench

My Lords, I am reluctant to enter into a tit-for-tat argument but is the Minister aware of a devastating report by two Israeli organisations into the recent abuse and torture of Palestinian prisoners at the Shikma interrogation facility in Ashkelon? If so, will the Government consider joining our European partners in making appropriate representations to the Israeli Government?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, our diplomats in Israel make regular representations of concern about events there. As I have already said, we draw no equivalence with regard to incitement and activity. We say that it is important for those who want to achieve peace to ensure that they work together. It is only by negotiating a peace that we can achieve it; incitement is an enemy of peace.

Photo of Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Minister has mentioned the consul-general in east Jerusalem and our diplomats there. Can she tell the House what representations have been or will be made to the consul-general following the International Women’s Day message on the official Palestinian Authority TV channel on 7 March this year, which urged Palestinian women to remember the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi who led the lethal coastal massacre which killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, I am able to give a little detail about the most recent contacts, which might help the noble Lord. In January, Her Majesty’s consul-general in Jerusalem met Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, who had called the recent attacks there “heroic”. Our consul-general also met the Minister of Health, Jawad Awwad. The ministry had issued a statement praising the Tel Aviv New Year’s Day shooter, Nashat Melhem.

As for television, the director of pro-Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch describes decades-long propaganda campaigns on PA-sponsored children’s programmes which depict Jews and Israelis as enemies of God. Her Majesty’s consul-general in Jerusalem has raised this with the Palestinian Authority as part of broader lobbying on incitement since this Question was tabled. I thought it would be helpful to update the noble Lord on that.

Photo of Lord Davies of Stamford Lord Davies of Stamford Labour

My Lords, raising the matter of incitement, to use the noble Baroness’s word, does not seem to have had much effect. Will she remind the House of the amount of aid that we give the Palestinian Authority, both directly and via EU projects? Will she consider saying clearly to the Palestinian Authority that it is quite unacceptable for it to be taking British public money on the one hand and, on the other, using its own resources to subsidise networks that produce the propaganda in favour of terrorism that we have heard quoted in the House today?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, the noble Lord is correct to point out that, through DfID, we provide significant humanitarian aid to the people who are suffering in Gaza. It is conditional on the basis that it only goes to people in need. The Palestinian Authority should make best efforts to resume control of Gaza and re-engage in discussions with Israel about how peace may be achieved.

Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development)

My Lords, there is no justification for terrorism or for the actions that we saw yesterday. We unequivocally condemn them. The Minister is absolutely right. Our focus is on keeping the two-state solution and hopes for peace alive. We need to invest in interfaith, intercommunity activity. Will she commit to doing more of this because, at the moment, it is extremely limited?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, I whole- heartedly agree with the noble Lord. During the early part of this year, we reopened bids for the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, which is FCO-based. It has been doubled this year to its highest ever level. We will welcome bids if they qualify for support. The noble Lord is right; we need to do more to help.