Palestinian Incitement – the UK Government keeps its blinkers on
The Palestinian Authority's obligation to prepare its people to live peaceably alongside its neighbour must be taken seriously. Until it keeps its side of the bargain, the flow of cash into its coffers should stop
On April 18th The Commentator carried a disturbing editorial exposing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s ignorance and indifference to the way that UK taxpayers’ money is being used by the Palestinian Authority to incite its citizens to hatred of their Jewish neighbours. The Commentator’s sombre conclusion was that by failing to challenge or even investigate widespread concerns about the role of the Palestinian Authority in inciting hatred amongst its citizens, “Britain is actually facilitating the glorification of terrorists and thus incitement to commit terrorism.”
A letter signed by Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan MP provides more evidence that deep seated rejection of the two state solution and non-violence by the Palestinian Authority and its media is passing under the radar of departments responsible for dishing out cash for aid and development.
In his response to a letter from a constituent sent to him via their local MP, expressing concern about incitement in the Palestinian media, Duncan opines that Palestinian TV (whose coffers are handsomely lined by the UK taxpayer) is ‘subject to official directive that make clear that it must avoid any content of programs [sic] that endorse or propagate violence’, without any reference to the examples provided by the constituent.
The Minister and his officials cannot be unaware that Palestinian TV often broadcasts programmes which lionise terrorism, which encourage and educate young Palestinians to believe that cities such as Haifa and Acre are Palestinian, and demonise Jews in general Israeli Jews in particular. Such programmes abound and are easily accessible thanks to the work of organisations such as MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch.
Only last week, Palestinian Media Watch exposed a horrible example from Palestinian TV, showing a children’s programme in which the adult TV presenters shouted, "Bravo!" as a small child recited a poem in which she described Israel as “Satan with a tail.” This is a clear breach of the conditions under which UK taxpayers fund Palestinian TV.
Are ministers challenging it? They should be, for the UK’s overseas developmental assistance is framed within a Memorandum of Understanding under which the Palestinian Authority is expected to commit itself to non-violence.
Duncan further asserted that, “Any serious examination of the overall track record of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian authority since 2007 will show that President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad are genuinely committed to a two state solution and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” In support, he cites the Israeli government's commendation of the co-operation between Palestinian and Israeli security forces in improving security and preventing violence, including against Israel.
But where is Abbas’ commitment to a two-state solution, a Jewish and a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside each other, when he insists that the Palestinian ‘right of return’ should be to Israel, rather than to a state of Palestine? He knows quite well that this would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish national home. Instead, Abbas reveals his aspirations when he poses in front of a map which erases Israel from the region.
And what are we to understand when he assures Palestinians that there are no real “political differences” between Fatah and Hamas, and attempts to form an alliance with a designated terrorist organisation openly dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state? What grounds has Mr Duncan for his confidence in Abbas?
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s record may be more worthy of the Minister’s confidence. However, it’s worth remembering The Commentator’s example of Fayyad’s ambivalence towards the use of violence when, on the afternoon of March 24th 2011, he broadcast a condemnation of the Jerusalem bus stop bomb having that very same morning spoken on Palestinian radio about his ‘honour and admiration’ for female terrorists - one of them a bus bomber.
Abbas and Fayyad likewise both sprang to the defence of three Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists who, in late 2009 murdered a Jewish rabbi and father of seven in a drive-by shooting and were themselves later killed by IDF forces as they resisted arrest for their crime. Abbas, whose Fatah party adopted the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as part of Fatah in 2003, labelled the murderers ‘Shahids’, (not the only time Abbas has glorified terrorists as ‘martyrs’) and Fayyad visited their families, to present his personal condolences.
Such complacency in the face of the realpolitik of the Middle East cannot benefit the UK, particularly when the Government's critical approach to Israeli policy means its treatment of the two sides is far from even-handed. That the Department for International Development appears unaware both of the incitement broadcast by the UK-subsidised Palestinian Media, and the casual approach of Palestinian leaders towards the undertakings and commitments they made under the Memorandum of Association - in exchange for substantial amounts of British cash - is baffling.
UK officials both here and in the Middle East must take seriously the Palestinian Authority's obligation to prepare its people to live peaceably alongside its neighbour. And until UK taxpayers can be convinced that Palestinian leaders are keeping their side of a bargain which costs the UK taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in aid every year, the flow of cash into their coffers should stop.
Fran Lammas has over 25 years’ experience in the UK education sector and is a regular Middle East commentator
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.