Conservative parliamentarians express concerns about Gaza violence and Hamas’s exploitation of protests

By May 17 2018, 10:56 Latest News No Comments

Alistair Burt 22Numerous Conservative MPs in the House of Commons on this week condemned Hamas for its exploitation of Palestinian protesters, following the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 conflict on Monday.

Prime Minister Theresa May has called “on all sides to show restraint” and voiced concern that “extremist elements are seeking to hijack legitimate protests”.

Prime Minister Theresa May said in a press conference on Tuesday: “There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation”. She emphasised: “Palestinians have the right to protest, but these protests must be peaceful. We are concerned that extremist elements are seeking to hijack legitimate protests to further their own objectives”.

As many as 20 Conservative MPs spoke following a statement by Minister for the Middle East, Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt, in response to an Urgent Question by Labour on the violence. The Middle East Minister underlined in his statement that “it is deplorable, but true, that extremist elements have exploited the protests for their own violent purposes”.

Minister Burt added: “We will not waver from our support for Israel’s right to defend its borders, but the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint”.

He reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to a two-state solution and said: “All sides now need to show real leadership and courage, promote calm, refrain from inflaming tensions further, and show with renewed urgency that the path to a two-state solution is through negotiation and peace”.

Responding to Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP’s response, Mr Burt pointed out that she had neglected to mention “any possible complicit Hamas involvement in the events”.

It has since been confirmed by a senior Hamas official on Wednesday that 50 of the 62 Palestinians killed in violence in Gaza this week are members of the internationally proscribed terrorist organisation.

During the Urgent Question, CFI Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP said that the violence was “deeply distressing”, but added that “there was a highly orchestrated and deliberate attempt by the Hamas regime to use legitimate protests as a cover for trying to breach the security zone and bring chaos and bloodshed on to Israeli soil”. Watch a video of the exchange here.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Crabb affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself from attempts to breach Gaza border, and condemned Hamas for “manipulating the citizens of Gaza”. Click here to read his interview in full.

CFI Vice-Chairman Andrew Percy MP urged the Government “to differentiate between protesters and those who have used children as shields and have gone to the border with the sole intention of breaching it to kill innocent civilians”. Watch a video of the exchange here.

CFI Vice-Chairman Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP said that that an effective peace process “is vital if we are to avoid tragedies of the kind that occurred yesterday”. She asked the Middle East Minister whether he would “acknowledge that Hamas is a serious roadblock to a peace process, and condemn it for that?”

CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell OBE MP stressed the “importance of face-to-face negotiations” in his question to the Minister.

Michael Fabricant MP stressed that “taking a unilateral view that Israel is to blame only, merely encourages Hamas to do worse”. Watch a video of the exchange here.

Ross Thomson MP condemned Hamas officials for “actively encouraging protesters to be martyrs and bussing rioters to the border for them to sling Molotov cocktails and fireballs across it and to tear down fencing”. Watch a video of the exchange here.

Click here to read the transcript of the Urgent Question in full.

In Foreign Office Questions, Paul Masterton MP asked: “when the Hamas Prime Minister has said ‘We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies’, what is this government doing to build international pressure on Hamas to renounce violence and disarm?”

CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE said in the House of Lords that he mourned the loss of life in Gaza. He condemned “all violence” as well as Hamas’s “continued development of its underground terror structure, its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately sending its own people towards the border fence into danger”. Watch a video of the exchange here.

Lord Leigh underlined that the “appalling loss of life” in Gaza on Monday was in “no small part due to Hamas enticing innocent civilians from peaceful protests to violence”. He highlighted the work of the Jerusalem Foundation in promoting peaceful coexistence in Jerusalem.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Health Ministry, 60 people were killed in Monday’s violence and 1,300 were injured. Two more people were killed in renewed clashes along the border today, according to the Ministry.

The violence coincided with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” as Palestinians term Israel’s creation.

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