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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Opposition Whip (Commons) 4:00 pm, 10th March 2020

Absolutely. I am sure the staff of UNRWA do not want to be in classrooms teaching such things either. We have common cause here—we need to look at the evidence, because what we need to do will flow from that.

It is important that we look at the wider context. We are answering a fundamental question: why are young Palestinians being radicalised? We have picked one element of the issue—a very important element of it—but I also saw military courts where children were offered arbitrary sentences that were shorter than the period of time they would have been detained to have a full trial. We heard first-hand stories of inconsistent access to life-saving medical treatments. We visited suburbs that had been developed around and heard from children about their lack of hope for their community. Everyone will have seen the physical checkpoints and walls that those children have no prospect of ever passing through. Their lives are lived under the constant threat of demolition. We heard from Israel defence force soldiers, who said it was a part of their operating procedure to inconvenience and to disturb Palestinians, especially young men.

That is the broader context. We serve nobody if we choose only a little bit of context to try to answer the whole question. I know today we have focused on a very important issue—the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North is right to raise it—and we should find solutions, because it gets to the very core of why we use aid spending in this country. However, we will serve no one in the pursuit of a two-state solution if we look like we are picking sides.

As I stood up to speak, I thought about my friends who often have contrasting views on these issues, and I thought, “I hope that when I sit down, I will at least have disappointed them equally.” That is the territory that we are in here and that is the spirit in which we need to continue these conversations. Hopefully, we can revisit it after we have seen the report.