CFI Parliamentary Chairmen, Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, have written to International Development Secretary Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP expressing their concerns over language used in recent correspondence to parliamentarians on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
This week, the International Development Secretary wrote to parliamentarians to explain the background of the announcement last month of an additional £5 million of UK aid for UNRWA.
Mr Crabb, Lord Pickles and Lord Polak contend that the Secretary of State’s correspondence “fails to give the necessary assurances that this additional aid designation will be dispensed responsibly”, raising additional concerns on the “troubling” omission of Hamas’s status as an internationally proscribed terrorist entity.
They note that there is no “recognition of [Hamas’s] harmful impact upon the people of Gaza”, including “Hamas’s efforts to divert international aid to construct cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and produce rockets to fire towards Israeli civilian communities”.
Conveying the concerns of a number of Conservative colleagues, particularly over the “role of Hamas in Gaza and the need for thorough scrutiny to reassure British taxpayers”, they write that it was “improper” for the Secretary of State to refer to a “political conflict between Hamas and Israel”. They argue that this “wrongly implies that there is a parity between the two parties”. “As you know, Hamas is an internationally proscribed terror organisation committed to the violent destruction of Israel and opposed to any political dialogue or peace process, while Israel is a Western democracy which shares our commitment to finding a two-state solution”, they underline.
While recognising UNRWA’s “important humanitarian role” in the lives of generations of Palestinians, CFI’s Parliamentary Chairmen and Honorary President maintain “legitimate concerns over the long-term viability of the organisation”.
They express additional “longstanding concerns” over “the presence of antisemitism, violent rhetoric and incitement within the Palestinian Authority curriculum”, which is used by UNRWA across its network of 700 schools, and condemn the PA’s “abhorrent practice of paying salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists”.
The parliamentarians argue that UK Government representations on incitement with the Palestinian Authority “appear to have been ineffective”, and call for a “firmer approach” to be considered. They write that it is “wholly unrealistic to expect progress in tackling radicalisation by the Palestinian Authority if UNRWA is supported unconditionally in its existing format”.
They would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of State to discuss their concerns further.