Spot the Difference: Britain's biased approach to the Middle East Peace Process

Two recent answers to questions pertaining to the Middle East Peace Process by British government ministers reveal a stark bias in their approach to the conflict

by Parliament Spy on 10 July 2013 12:18

It's not like me to harp on and on about something like the Middle East Peace Process (ahem), but I thought in order to further illustrate the unacceptable bias that permeates from within the Foreign and Commowealth Office in Britain, and indeed from the mouths of 'Conservative' ministers, I would show you the responses to two parliamentary questions recently tabled in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The first question, by Dr. Matthew Offord, reads: 

"To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Palestinian Authority about reports that PA TV has broadcast a video calling on Palestinians to raise flags over all Israeli cities and villages." (163423) (Question tabled on Wednesday, July 3 2013)

The answer from Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East, is riddled with excuses made for one side:

"Recent reports have concluded that both parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict need to do more to promote a positive portrayal of each other, reflecting the principles of co-existence, tolerance, justice and human dignity. The UK regularly condemns incitement and registers our concerns with both sides. The British Consul General in Jerusalem called on the Palestinian Authority to avoid incitement in a speech addressed to the then Prime Minister Hamdallah on 19 June.

"While we have raised previous concerns with Palestinian TV, we have not raised this specific allegation. Palestine TV is not an official station of the Palestinian Authority (PA). But it is subject to official directives that make clear that it must avoid any programme content that endorses or propagates violence. We do not believe that the reports in question bring into question the PA's commitment to a two state solution and its often repeated recognition of the state of Israel." (Answer given on Tuesday, July 9 2013)

Sure, the UK continues to 'condemn' incitement, even though the whispered words of ostensible disapproval from the Foreign Office come caveated with various other statements making excuses and indeed promoting mistruths on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

But look what happens when someone calls Israeli actions into question. No caveats, no excuses, just straight up scorn, despite the reports that the named victim was said to be either the one carrying or with someone carrying a firebomb (molotov cocktail).

Baroness Jenny Tonge asked: 

"...what discussions on military accountability they [Her Majesty's Government] have had with the government of Israel following the reported shooting of Atta Muhammad Atta Sabah on 6 June[?]"

To which Baroness Sayeeda Warsi responded: 

"We are very concerned by incidents in which Palestinian civilians have been injured and killed by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) this year. We have raised these cases with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the National Security Council and with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli authority for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We most recently raised the issue of investigations into the killing of Palestinian civilians by the IDF with the Israeli Attorney General on 20 June." (9 July 2013 : Column WA34)

Is it any wonder, when the government of the day is tasked with responding to, and therefore legitimising such questions as that of Tonge's that the public and 'human rights organisations' adopt and trot out the same half-baked stories with regards to the Middle East Peace Process?

Of course, I'm not reporting any of this because I'm surprised. But rather, the next time someone tries to cite incidents such as the one Baroness Tonge raised, perhaps you'll feel inclined to correct them using, you know... facts?

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