Tory MP accuses Israeli military of killing ‘dozens of Palestinian children’ in 2023

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Tory MP accuses Israeli military of killing ‘dozens of Palestinian children’ in 2023

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow led sustained condemnation of Israel from MPs across all parties in a foreign questions session in the Commons

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Paul Bristow won the Peterborough seat from Labour’s Lisa Forbes in 2019
Paul Bristow won the Peterborough seat from Labour’s Lisa Forbes in 2019

Conservative MP Paul Bristow has accused Israel of killing “dozens of Palestinian children” in military operations this year.

Speaking in the Commons, the Peterborough MP also called for Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government to show “compassion and restraint” with “all sides” needing to put  “respect for human life first.”

During a heated foreign questions session on Tuesday, Bristow noted that “regrettably” a lasting  peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians seems “as far away as ever.”

He then added: “In 2023 dozens of Palestinian children have been killed in Israeli military operations.

Bristow suggested to foreign office minister David Rutley; “We should never become immune to those deaths, and the tragedy of those deaths.

“Will the minister agree with me, and urge the Israeli government to show compassion and restraint and urge all sides to put respect for human life first?”

Rutley, appointed as a parliamentary under secretary of state at the foreign, commonwealth and development office last October, accepted Bristow had made an “important point” and added “every one of those deaths is tragic” .

He noted that last week the foreign office had published a report which stated the occupied Palestinian territories were a “human rights priority” and the UK “will continue to oppose violations and abuse of international human rights or international humanitarian law by the government of Israel or the Palestinian Authority.”

Bristow’s intervention was the first of several highly critical speeches made by MPs from across all parties in response to the recent escalation of the conflict in the middle east.

Seven of the 14 listed questions in the Commons sessions related to Israel, leading to the minister attempting to answer many together during the discussion.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the debate had shown the “strength of feeling across the House this morning” over the issue, and noted there had been “new illegal settlements announced, increasing violence, terrorist attacks and a rise in civilian deaths.”

But Lammy said, despite the deteriorating situation, the government’s focus had been on Michael Gove’s controversial anti-BDS bill.

Lammy said reports had suggested that diplomats warned ministers the bill “breached our obligations under UN resolution 2334.  Lammy then asked: “If this is true, why is the Levelling Up Secretary undermining UK foreign policy?”

Rutley said the government’s position “was agreed”  by the foreign office.

Labour MP Imran Hussain told MPs that a Palestinian woman Noura Ghaith-Sub Laban was last week “tragically dragged from her home” of over 70 years in a forced eviction in Jerusalem’s Old City, a case he had first raised in the Commons seven years ago.

Hussain said:”If this case isn’t it, what is the government’s red line? How many more Palestinian grandmothers must be forcibly evicted?”

He added what was now taking place in “occupied East Jerusalem was more than an expansion of settlements, it was “an encirclement.”

Rutley confirmed that Lord Ahmad, the middle east minister, had indeed “raised this case with the Israeli ambassador and made clear we urge Israel to reconsider forthcoming evictions.”

Conservative MP Sir Robert Neill said he was “proud” to be a “friend of Israel” but added the bill by the Netanyahu government to reduce the power of the judiciary would “make it harder” for friends of the Jewish state to “advocate for its cause.”

Stephen Crabb MP

While Stephen Crabb MP, said the emergence of new Palestinian terror groups such as Lions Den “coupled with the loss of control of the Palestinian Authority” contributed to fears that “outside actors” such as Iran had growing influence in encouraging violence in the region.

Rutley agreed the influence of Iran was “causing all sorts of challenges and regional instability.”

Last month figures suggested 27 Palestinian children had been killed in Gaza and the West Bank this year.

But Israel has argued that many of those under the 18 have been killed as a result of the involvement in terrorist activity.

But in June two-and-a-half-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi died in a Tel Aviv hospital after being shot by Israeli forces.

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