In questions to the Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs yesterday, the Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood MP condemned Palestinian incitement and said that he would address reports of dangerous rhetoric during his upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank.
The Minister’s comments came in response to a topical question from Labour MP Joan Ryan, who asked what pressure the Government was putting on the Palestinian Authority to ensure an end to incitement to violence.
Mr Ellwood emphasised the importance of stopping incitement: “The right hon. Lady is absolutely right. This is the sort of rhetoric I was referring to earlier, and it takes us into a very, very dark place. It is the sort of rhetoric that President Abbas should be condemning straight away”.
He asserted: “I will visit Israel and the West Bank shortly, and I will certainly raise these matters to ensure that this kind of encouragement and incitement to violence is stopped”.
Joan Ryan MP had asked: “On new year’s day, Nashat Melhem murdered two Israelis in a bar in Tel Aviv and wounded eight others. He then killed a taxi driver, a Bedouin Israeli, while escaping. He himself was killed a week later in a shoot-out with the police. The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health has described him as ‘one of the dearest martyrs’, and the Fatah Facebook page has commented: ‘Congratulations and may Allah receive you in Heaven’. What pressure will the Government bring to bear on the Palestinian Authority to ensure that this kind of encouragement to violence is stopped?”
Victoria Atkins, the Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle, drew attention to the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration in 2017. She asked the Minister: “November 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration, which was an historic step in the creation of modern Israel. Are there any plans to mark this anniversary?”
Mr Ellwood confirmed the Government’s plans to recognise the anniversary: “During this Parliament we mark a series of events and decisions that took place during and after world war one, including the Balfour declaration, the then Foreign Secretary’s letter to the leader of the British Jewish community, Lord Rothschild”.
He added: “We are proud of the role that Britain played in supporting the birth of the state of Israel, but the incompletion of the Oslo accords reminds us that there is still work to do to honour the declaration in full. But, yes, we will mark the Balfour declaration anniversary this year”.