MPs advised to read Amnesty’s ‘apartheid’ report for Palestine recognition debate

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MPs advised to read Amnesty’s ‘apartheid’ report for Palestine recognition debate

EXCLUSIVE: 'Debate pack' produced by House of Commons library also included report by Human Rights Watch, which branded the Jewish state 'apartheid'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

MPs attending a House of Commons debate on the UK recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel have been guided to read the controversial Amnesty International report that accused the Jewish state of practicing “apartheid.”

A “debate pack” produced by the House of Commons Library included the Amnesty report as suggested reading under the headline: “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians; a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity.”

The same list of suggested reading from “Human rights and civil organisations” also recommended the Human Rights Watch report from last April, titled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”

The Backbench Business Committee debate on UK Government recognition of the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel takes place on Thursday in the Commons chamber.

The Labour MP Andy Slaughter had called for the debate to be held on the seventh anniversary of the full day Commons debate on recognising Palestine.

MPs are informed on background of the UK position after the Commons voted in October 2014 that “the government should recognise the state of Palestine, alongside Israel, as a contribution to a negotiated two state solution.”

This vote was not binding on the government, and the UK has continued to reiterate its position that it would only recognise Palestine at the “right time” in the peace process with Israel.

MPs are then given arguments in favour of recognition including Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran’s claim that recognition by the UK would help re-establish peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Commons Library then presents MPs with a selection of newspaper articles to read, including some published by Israeli papers The Times of Israel and Haaretz, alongside articles in the Guardian, Al Jazeera and the Financial Times.

Press releases from the Foreign Office, along with written answers by Ministers are also included in the debate pack.

But the inclusion of both this month’s Amnesty International report, and last year’s by Human Rights Watch, without balancing material, will  infuriate some pro-Israel MPs and communal organisations.

When it was published earlier this month Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Council chair Keith Black issued a joint condemnation of Amnesty’s assessment of Israel.

They accused the human rights organisation of making a “preposterous slur” with their allegation that Israel practised a system of apartheid against the Palestinians.

In the joint Board/JLC response it also said:”If Amnesty UK were serious about improving standards, it would find ways to strengthen existing efforts on the ground. Instead, it chooses to focus on demonising the one Jewish state, holding it to clear double standards. This is a bad faith report hostile to the very concept of Israel, and we reject its very premise.”

Last year, when the Human Rights Watch report was released, it received similar condemnation from communal leaders – who also claimed the group were biased against Israel.

The House of Commons Library said it published material ” to support the work of MPs.”

As a research and information service based in parliament it says it provides “impartial analysis, statistical research and resources” to “help MPs and their staff scrutinise legislation, develop policies and support constituents.”

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