Not as serious as they should be

The absence of any negotiations between Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu, along with the revelations about Abbas’ son holding $1 million worth of shares in a Palestinian investment company, and the building of a $13 million palace, suggest that the Palestinian leadership may be too comfortable with the present situation to make any progress towards peace.

Photo of Palestinian leaderMahmoud Abbas (photo from Wiki Commons)

Despite the Palestinian leader’s claim on 1st April that he wanted to meet the Israeli Prime Minister, the lack of negotiations will not surprise those familiar with the political manoeuvring in the Middle East. But it is extremely frustrating for all who long for peace in the region.

Those frustrations were echoed in the House of Commons on Tuesday this week, during the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s oral answers to questions.

Louise Ellman raised the concern over Hezbollah constructing a base in Syria to fire Iranian ballistic missiles into Israel. To which Tobias Ellwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, replied that unless Iran:

“is able to control Hezbollah and have an influence, we will see that this nuclear deal will mean little.”

Eric Pickles then drew attention to two very different initiatives in the region: the extension of fishing rights for Gazan fisherman with Israeli co-operation, and the naming of a basketball tournament after a terrorist who killed 36 people, including 12 children.

Tobias Ellwood replied that this contrast highlights the dilemma that we face in the region, and that with basketball courts, schools and streets being named after terrorists, it:

does not suggest that the Palestinians are as serious as they should be.”

These views could soon have a significant impact upon UK government policy towards the Palestinians. More than 220,000 people have signed a petition about UK spending on foreign aid, prompting a Parliamentary debate on the subject to be scheduled for 13th June.