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Perhaps even worse, information has now been revealed on the Israeli incursions in the west bank, and specifically on its incursions into Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, giving direct evidence that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have been the paymasters of the terrorists, including the very recent ones who are still wreaking havoc.
Invoices have been found in Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah from the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade, which is directly connected to Yasser Arafat, asking for reimbursement from the Palestinian Authority for explosives for bombings in Israeli cities. Those requests were directed to Fouad Shoubaki, the Palestinian Authority's chief financial officer for military operations. Some, dated 16 September 2001, ask for money for bombs and to finance posters promoting suicide bombers. Indeed, since that date 12 suicide bombings have been carried out in Israel by that very group.
The Israelis have found and made available a handwritten note from Yasser Arafat dated 19 September 2001 authorising payments to three militia leaders, including the Fatah commander Ziad Muhammed Daas, who masterminded the suicide attacks at the Hadera bat mitzvah massacre on 7 January 2001. That massacre, which took place at what is in effect a birthday party for 12-year-old Jewish girls, killed at least six people and injured 35, many severely.
That is recent evidence, unearthed by the Israeli incursions into Ramallah, of Yasser Arafat's continuing direct complicity in the direction of terror, which is being perpetrated to ensure that there can never be peace.
It is important for everyone who seeks peace to remember that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians will not be resolved without recognising the impact of international terrorism. Iraq is deeply involved through its funding of the families of suicide bombers. Recently, Iraq decided to increase its payments to the families of suicide bombers, who now receive $25,000 every time a suicide bomber goes out on a mission.
There is awareness of the involvement of Iran, especially in the case of the Karine A, which was carrying a shipment of arms to the west bank. Fortunately, it was intercepted by Israel. Those arms were intended for the purpose of firing on Israeli cities, in direct contravention of the Oslo agreement. Syria is involved in direct funding of Hezbollah and Hamas.
Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire): It is a privilege to have the opportunity to speak in the debate, because there have been many fine speeches, which I cannot hope to emulate. They introduced passion, commitment and a great deal of understanding of the situation in Israel and Palestine.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman), like my hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb), assisted the debate by ensuring that we balance an understanding of the issues as appreciated by those who live in Israel, and have suffered at the hands of terror for so long and to such a dreadful extent, with an understanding of the perspective of Palestinians who have suffered so much injustice.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) said, that sense of trust is precisely what is missing in the middle east process. My right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) and the Foreign Secretary explained how past negotiations and discussions brought the parties close to the point where they could see an end, but did not reach it. Although we can argue about who was to blameAriel Sharon at Temple Mount or Yasser Arafat promoting the intifadaagreement was not reached and trust between the parties broke down. There is now such an absence of trust that it is difficult to see how they can be brought together.
As we move towards the conclusion of this debate, I do not envy my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) or the Minister their task of trying to sum it up. We have to think not only of what has happened and who is to blame but of where we are now and where we should go. There has been insufficient emphasis in the debate on the American Government's desire to play an active part in seeking a way forward, with which we can assist, and too much cavilling about what may or may not have been a lack of commitment on the part of President Bush after what was clearly an immense effort by President Clinton to secure agreements.
It is hardly surprising that President Bush thought that he would not devote so much political capital and energy to securing an agreement in the middle east in the immediate wake of his election. He knows that he has to do it now. That is not simply because the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is the genesis of so much terror and crisis across the world, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire said; more particularly, it is because the Americans know that only they have the ability to bring the necessary influence to bear on the Israelis. It is no good believing that anyone else can do that. It is even worse for us to make suggestions about sanctions against Israel, as that would simply convince the Israelis that they had no option but to defend themselves entirely according to their own justification and judgment, rather than according to the judgment of the international community. The Israelis must understand that the international community understands and supports them, their right to self-defence and their right to exist.
I entirely support what my right hon. Friends the Members for Horsham and for Devizes said earlier about the nature of the problem, and about where we need to go from here. As the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) said, we must understand that there is a Palestinian cause, but it is not one that justifies terror. We must understand that the Israelis have the rightand, if necessary, we must offer them responsible support in exercising their rightof self-defence and striking back against those who would use terror against them.
We must understand that even in the context of further negotiations that may lead to a settlement, which is plausible, we will not eliminate terror levelled against Israel, whatever its sourcewhether it comes from Hezbollah, from some of the fundamentalist Islamic groups supported in Iran, or from anywhere else. We must be prepared to support Israel in the process of distinguishing between legitimate Palestinian causes and the pursuit of terror.
We must do something else as well. If we expect a high standard from Israel in respect of how it exercises its right to self-defence according to the rule of law, we should also expect the Palestinian Authority, if it aspires to statehood, to meet the standards of statehood. That means ensuring that it exercises the monopoly of coercive power within its state, that it does not allow terror to be used from that state with its consent or even through negligence on its part, and that it uses the rule of law to bring those responsible for terror to justice.
Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Kelvin): In the years during which I was on the campaign trail with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), I used to describe him as the best Foreign Secretary that Labour never had. I think that he proved that again this evening.
The real Foreign Secretary, on the other hand, sought at the outset to inject a tranquilliser into the debate. He proceeded on that basis to paint a picture that I thought bore little relation to the reality of what is happening on the ground. He and his opposite number seemed to be building sandcastles in the air, talking of a peace process that no longer exists and of all the things that Ariel Sharon will have to dowhich, as is manifestly and abundantly clear, he has no intention whatsoever of doing: he will tell anyone who is listening, and indeed those who are not, that he has no intention of doing them, not now, not ever. They made demands of Arafat that he do this and that in his cell in Ramallah. He was being asked to controlfrom a cell full of holes, without water, without a toilet, without a telephone, without electric light, without policemen,
In the Foreign Secretary's discourse and in that of his opposite number, I smelt no whiff of the cordite of the ordnance that, as we speak, is shattering the edifice of the basilica of Bethlehem. In their, if I may say so, rather complacent Front-Bench consensus I did not smellas I did so vividly when my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) was speakingthe death camp of Jenin. I did not picture the children drinking sewage. I gained no grasp of the immediate, desperate tragedy of all this.
Instead, we heard a long recitation of what we all know alreadyof what the final solution of the conflict will have to be, namely two states living side by side. We do not need to debate that; what we need to debate is how we get there. Nothing that the Front Benchers had to say led me to believe that they had any manifesto or programme for bringing that about. We should compare what they said with the radical set of proposals presented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton. He actually had a plan for how we and the United States could, and should, force Sharon to the negotiating table, and for the concessions that he must be forced to make. We should compare that with our own Government's performance. As the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) pointed out, in the United Nations conference yesterday we could not even bring ourselves to vote to condemn the massacres. The Foreign Secretary said that the resolution was unbalanced, but it was not so unbalanced that most of our European partners could not vote for it. Why was that impossible for us?
What is Britain doing to rise to the occasion? We are selling guns to Ariel Sharon. In fact, the Government are selling more weapons to General Sharon than we sold to Ehud Barak, the so-called dove who preceded him. The Minister answered my earlier question, so the Government know that Israel is brazenly breaking former assurances that it would not use those military weapons in the occupied territories. The Minister said that he would demand an assurance on that, but we have had none. The Foreign Secretary said today that he could no longer rely on Israeli assurances. Given those facts, what is stopping us announcing now that we will sell no more arms to General Sharon?
Time will not permit me to develop more than a few extra points, so I shall deal with two dramatic events that have occurred over the past couple of days. They are pregnant with further disaster, and I direct my remarks to those friends of Israel who have been eloquent in the past few minutes.
First, the capture and proposed trial of Marwan Barghouti; is a very dangerous development. Marwan Barghouti; is the second most important man in Palestine, and he may well be the president of the Palestinian state one day. He is not an Islamic fundamentalist or extremist, but a leader of the progressive nationalist wing of the Palestinian resistance. The friends of Israel must accept that when Sharon marginalises, imprisons and murders the leaders of the nationalist wing of the Palestinian resistance, he ensures that the torch of nationalist leadership will pass to the irrational and irreconcilable
I ask this of the friends of Israel: please do not harm, humiliate or, after a kangaroo court trial, imprison Marwan Barghouti. With Yasser Arafat, he represents the last hope of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) said earlier, from the Opposition Front Bench, that Arafat was not flexible. My God, Arafat is so flexible he could be made of india rubber. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that another Palestinian would be more flexible than Yasser Arafat, his learning curve has some way to go.
Barghouti and Arafat are the last hopes of a two-state solution. If we lose them, we are in for prolonged war between Islamic fundamentalism and Israel. How any friend of the Jewish people could think that that would be a step forward beats me.
My second, and final, point, concerns the proposal from General Powell in the past 24 hours for a regional peace conference that did not involve the Palestinian leadership. Someone in London will have to tell our special friends in Washington that the Palestine Liberation Organisation became the sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people more than 25 years ago. No Arab leader, however much of a puppet he may be, would ever turn up to speak for the Palestinians at a conference from which the Palestinian President was forbidden, and certainly not at a time when that President is besieged and imprisoned in a cell in Ramallah. We have to shoot down that moth-eaten kite now, because it seems to be emerging as the only concrete product from General Powell's ill-fated and ill-starred visit to the region.
In conclusion, I implore the Government to be bolder and more imaginative. We have a special responsibility here: in this building was authored this tragedy when one people promised a second people the land of a third people, without consulting any of the three peoples concerned. Balfour did not speak for the British; the Zionist movement to which he promised the land at that time was not only not hegemonic among world Jewry but represented only a small fragment of opinion in world Jewry. The Palestinian people, whom even Balfour said had inalienable rights that must not be prejudiced, were the last and least to be consulted about that historic declaration.
We have a special responsibility to try harder than other people, to go the extra mile to get justice for the Palestinian people when we played such a seminal part in the tragedy that has befallen them. The great Albert Camus said: