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Mrs. Ellman: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Clarke: I do not have time.

Time prevents me from saying all that I had intended, but in the remaining time I shall mention two matters. When we discuss international aid in the Adjournment debate tomorrow, we must turn our attention to the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Palestine and the occupied territories of the west bank and Gaza, particularly in Jenin. Oxfam and World Vision speak today of gross violations of international humanitarian law, military targeting of medical personnel, denial of medical care and violence against International Red Cross and Red Crescent workers, and they give examples of such terrible atrocities, including the systematic—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order.

8.24 pm

Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): I apologise for being rather creaky. I sometimes wonder whom I would sue if I had a deep vein thrombosis in the Chamber after a long-haul debate.

Even before the recent Israeli offensive on the west bank, the humanitarian situation was very grave indeed. Life was hard for Palestinians. Some may ask why it should be, when they are surrounded by friendly Arab states, some of which are extremely wealthy. Nevertheless, I repeat that life is very hard. Child malnutrition in Gaza has doubled in the past year. I repeat: doubled. Unemployment in Gaza is

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85 per cent., the result of border closures. Thirty-seven per cent. of people in Gaza and 15 per cent. on the west bank are living in poverty—that is, on less than $2 a day. That has happened over the past year or so—a breeding ground for terrorism, if ever there was one.

Recent events in Jenin have horrified the international community, however many terrorists were hidden there. That was eloquently and vividly described by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd).

Over the years, the European Union has provided a large amount of aid to try to combat the problems of the Palestinians, but much has been destroyed by Israeli action. The list provided by the Department for International Development in response to my parliamentary question on 26 March is in the Library. I have a copy. Twenty-two European Union projects have been destroyed or badly damaged. Some were mentioned by name by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell).

The airport at Gaza is totally destroyed. The list includes schools, hospitals, the sea port, forestry projects, landfill sites and water installations. I heard from Oxfam today that the engineers are not allowed to go in and repair them. The lack of clean water is a huge problem for the Palestinians. The list goes on and on. Almost 20 million euros worth of aid has been blown up in the past two weeks.

I well understand that the Palestinians are not entirely without blame. It has been said tonight that they hide terrorists among civilians so that the civilians suffer too. I have seen reports, and been given reports by constituents, of Red Crescent ambulances being used to transport explosives and terrorists. There is blame to be laid there, but we must remember that terrorism is desperation and it is a very dirty business.

In the eyes of the world, Israel must take responsibility. It is seen as exerting disproportionate force. The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) put it eloquently when he said that we expect more of a state like Israel.

Will the Minister say who will refund the European Union? There are many calls on those funds from all over the world. Will Israel be forced to pay reparations for the damage? If not, how can those essential services be restored?

I had a useful meeting with members of the Jewish community in my constituency on Sunday evening. They are eminent and highly regarded members of my community, one a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I love and respect them all. They asked me to make three main points in the debate tonight. First, Mr. Sharon is not admired by them, nor are his methods, but they are firmly committed to a free and secure Israel and will always support the Israeli people. Many have relatives there and visit them often.

Secondly, my constituents want to support the Palestinians' right to their own free and secure state in Palestine, and wish to see withdrawal from the occupied territories to facilitate that. The settlements must indeed go. Thirdly, and above all, they wish me to say that they welcome the Saudi peace plan and the recognition by the Arab League of the legitimacy of the state of Israel. They felt that that was a huge movement forward and that the international community must not lose the opportunity to build on that gesture. They want negotiations based on the plan.

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My constituents showed me an interesting piece written by Amos Oz, a well-known left-wing Israeli. I confess that I did not know of it, but some in the House may do so. I should like to quote what Amos Oz said:

Of course, we must support the just war, but we should abhor the unjust war against Jews worldwide that is waged by Islamic fundamentalists. I contend that the unjust war is one of the reasons—if not the main reason—for the suicide bombings, on the basis of a combination of desperation and hopelessness, laced also with a huge dose of religious fundamentalism.

There is already much evidence of anti-Semitic campaigns being waged in universities, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife pointed out. I have brought evidence with me of what is happening in universities in this country in terms of action against synagogues and individuals throughout Europe. Just as we urged people to support the ordinary Muslim after 11 September and not to blame them for the acts of fanatics, we must support our Jewish friends throughout Europe who do not like the methods that are being used by the Israeli Government. I hope that the Minister will assure us that action will be taken against anyone who is found to be inciting racial hatred.

The situation in the middle east is dangerous and terrifying for all of us and I urge the Government to seek to use all means—I support wholeheartedly many of the suggestions made in the House—to bring the two sides together yet again.

8.32 pm

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside): We are witnessing the tragedy of the conflicting rights of self-determination of two peoples and the consequences of the derailment of the peace process that should have led to the creation of a new, independent and viable Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. That derailment happened when Yasser Arafat decided to walk out of negotiations 17 months ago and resort to terrorism—a decision that was criticised by the PLO's major negotiator in Jerusalem, Sari Nusseibeh, who said that it was a major missed opportunity.

That major missed opportunity has been a tragedy for all in the region. In Israel, we see the carnage caused by the work of suicide bombers who deliberately target civilians in cafes, at 12-year-olds' birthday parties and discos, and families and elderly people in particular as they sit down to religious festivals. We have seen targeted carnage in places such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Netanya, Hadera, Beersheba and Afula. On the west bank, we see the tragedy of destruction and loss of life as the Israelis make their incursions into the Palestinian west bank in an attempt to prevent suicide bombers from planning and executing new outrages.

I deplore the loss of civilian life, and the loss of the lives of innocent people. Where there is evidence, outrages must be punished, but surely it is absurd to suggest that any Government can ignore the continuous

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targeted killing of its citizens by people who believe that their country should not exist. Let us consider what happened in just one week this month. The casualties in Israel caused by the deliberate targeting of civilians for no other purpose than the creation of terror are the equivalent of 400 people killed in this country, with 2,500 injured. That would be the United Kingdom equivalent of what happened in Israel in one week in April—and that is not an isolated week.

As many hon. Members have said, attention must be concentrated on how we move forward, but before that can be achieved a number of unpalatable and extremely difficult facts must be faced. First, terrorist suicide bombings by Palestinians are directed against the existence of the state of Israel. We have heard much today about the desperation that may drive some people to commit these atrocities and massacres against Israeli civilians, but let it never be forgotten that suicide bombings began on Israeli civilians when the peace process was under way. They began when Rabin and Peres began their peace initiative; indeed, they brought down Shimon Peres' Government and ushered in the Government of Netanyahu, who was not committed to the peace process or to peace. History then repeated itself, and it was the suicide bombers who brought down Barak's Government as he fought so hard to achieve a genuine peace. The result of the suicide bombings carried out while Barak fought hard to bring peace was the ushering in of the Sharon Government; again, we saw coming into power a Government led by someone who was not dedicated to peace.

It is important to remember that the continuing outrages committed by Palestinian bombers and by people shooting indiscriminately have occurred to a great extent within the green line, or within Israel's 1967 borders, so I fear that it is promoting a misleading fallacy to pretend that suicide bombers are the result of occupation of the west bank and Gaza, much as I deplore that occupation and want it to end. I believe that the evidence shows that those suicide bombings are about the attempted extermination of the whole of Israel and what is seen as the occupation of Palestine.

The second unpalatable and difficult fact that has to be recognised is the reality that Yasser Arafat is part of the terrorist network. There is abundant evidence that he broke the promises that he made at Oslo while that peace process was ongoing, where he said that he would deal with conflicts and difficulties in a peaceful manner and without resorting to violence. At the end of 2000, he ordered his security services to release many Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, many of whom had been convicted for terrorism under the Oslo provisions.

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