Yesterday in Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt condemned Palestinian “support for incitement and terror”, and assured MPs that the Department for International Development (DfID) is “looking extremely carefully” to ensure that aid to the Palestinians does not “go in the wrong direction”.
Minister Burt’s comments came in response to a question from former Minister Andrew Percy MP, who drew attention to recent reports that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to the Palestinians he won’t stop paying salaries to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, even if it costs him his Presidency.
The Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole asked the Middle East Minister whether he agrees with him “that there is no way we will have peace in the Middle East unless there are coexistence projects and support for coexistence on the Palestinian side?”
Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP replied: “My Honourable friend is right, there are a number of barriers on the Palestinian side to make progress – support for incitement and terror is one of those”.
He added that DfID is looking “extremely carefully to make sure no payments go in the wrong direction”, stating that “it’s certainly true the Palestinian Authority needs to look very hard to make sure it’s not giving the wrong signals as we try and make progress on the Middle East Peace Process”.
This follows reports that UK aid to the PA has freed up funds for the PA to pay salaries to terrorists prisoners. Prisoner salaries directly reward terrorists who have killed Israelis, with higher salaries given to those who have killed more Israelis. In 2016 the PA paid £254 million for this practice, worth 7% of its budget and 20% of its foreign aid receipts.
Earlier in Foreign Office questions, Minister Burt underlined that “there are many different building blocks to try to revitalise the peace process”, with Israeli settlements “far from the only barrier to that”.
He added that he will “certainly be looking” at UK funding for peaceful coexistence projects between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as “looking further at what prospects there are for any new initiatives”.
Read the full exchange here.