Baroness Tonge on aid to the Occupied Territories

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In giving aid to the occupied territories of Palestine, in the West Bank and Gaza, is the UK government supporting the illegal occupation of Palestine, asks Baroness Tonge.

In the forward to a Department for International Development (DFID) programme up to 2015, David Cameron says in defending the overseas aid budget, that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is not just compassionate but sensible and goes on to say:

“In these tough times we are also acutely aware of the duty we have to the tax payer, to ensure that every penny of this budget is well spent.”

Noble words as ever from the Prime Minister.

Perhaps he can therefore explain why the UK donates money for aid to the occupied territories of Palestine?

We will spend £76 million per year in the occupied territories until 2015 both directly, and through the EU.

Has DIFD done a ‘root and branch’ review of where the aid goes and how it works, as promised in the PM’s statement?

The EU, following a request from Liberal Democrat MEP, Chris Davies, has just released a document listing the EU funded list of projects which where destroyed or damaged by the Israeli military between 2001 and 2011.

The losses amount to $65 million, $40 million of which came directly from European Aid.

Now the apologists will argue about unilateral and multilateral aid and how Israel must ‘protect’ its citizens, but I fail to see how the destruction of waste management and water treatment plants, water systems, and thousands of acres of agricultural land, actually makes Israelis feel more secure, even if the total destruction of the EU funded airport in Gaza probably did.

In 2008, at Gaza University, all the IT, engineering and science laboratories were destroyed. A remedial education centre was flattened in the same year and in 2009 Al Karameh Orphanage was destroyed.

Did all of this help Israeli security, or does it not just stoke up more anger and angst against them amongst the Palestinian population?

The damage continues, to land, houses and the fishing industry (in Gaza).

In February this year Israel issued demolition orders against alternative energy structures, namely 95 solar panels and six wind turbines in six villages in Southern Hebron.

In Area C which is 60 per cent of the West Bank, 60 per cent of the future Palestinian State, Israeli policy appears to be intent on forcing all Palestinians out of the area by destroying all their civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospital, animal shelters and water cisterns, whether EU funded or not.

Is this money an efficient use of UK taxpayers’ money or are we, by allowing Israel to blatantly disregard international law, Geneva Conventions and the human rights of the Palestinians, actually supporting the illegal occupation of Palestine and therefore aiding abetting Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Why do we not ask Israel to refund the money the UK and the EU have spent on helping the Palestinians?

Why is Israel not asked to give compensation to those Palestinians who have suffered such loss?

Why do we not ask the EU to deduct the cost of the projects destroyed from the funds it makes available to Israel as part of the EU-Israel Association agreement?

Why, if all else fails do we not suspend the EU Israel Association Agreement until Israel respects International Law and allows the Palestinians to have their own secure and viable state?