Palestinian School Curriculum: Radicalisation — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:04 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 3:04 pm, 10th March 2020

I congratulate Jonathan Gullis on securing the debate. I thank him for the way he set the scene. I am happy to stand with him and other hon. Members on this matter, and to say to the Minister that there must be a change in the way things are done in this Department.

This is not the first time I have spoken on this issue, and I assure hon. Members and the Department that as long as God spares me this will not be the last time, unless aid distributed by DFID is not misused, as currently is the case. I was a member of the DUP Friends of Israel group in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and I am a member here too. I unapologetically stand with Israel and its citizens in this debate.

As Stephen Crabb said, I want Palestine to have the opportunity to go forward and the two-state solution could well be the way to do that, but for that to happen there must be commitment from the Palestinians. They must stop their attacks upon Israelis, and that must be the basis for any progress.

I ask the Minister to request that his Department reviews the UK funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, where the money goes through to the Palestinian refugees. It seems to me—the information we received indicates this—that they are deliberately using educational books to focus on Palestinian young people, who are easily influenced. It is important that education is not used for the wrong reasons.

We should remember that the controversy around the use of different funds by the Palestinian Authority is not new; it covers many more issues than Palestinian textbooks. Although that is the starting point, it shows what the end goal is: namely, to perpetuate hatred against Israelis by indoctrinating children with spin and lies, which is more akin to what Goebbels would have done in the second world war. This House must not aid the Palestinian propaganda machine by ignoring the signs.

Ever since I entered the House in 2010, the misuse of funds has been a regular topic. For example, successive DFID Ministers regularly denied that a World Bank trust fund to which the UK made significant contributions enabled money to be sent to terrorists. The evidence said differently. The recipients claimed that the money funded the salaries of 85,000 Palestinian Authorities civil servants, but as far back as 2014 a report by the International Development Committee stated:

“We are nevertheless concerned that DFID is not taking adequate measures to prevent its funds from being misused. Given the scale of the operation, with 85,000 civil servants being paid with UK money, there is a serious risk of abuse. We do not regard a six-monthly audit as an adequate protection to secure the integrity of UK aid funds…
We recommend that DFID impose more stringent checks to ensure that the money it provides to the PA is not being misused while pursuing a constructive dialogue with the PA on the end-use of funds.”