|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
We have received a wake up call from hell. Now the question is simple: do we rally to defeat this evil, while there is still time, or do we press a collective snooze button and go back to business as usual?
The threat posed by global terrorist organisations was not caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as many have argued since 9/11. That international radical Islamist terrorism is rooted in religious fundamentalism, not in national conflicts. Like the US, Britain, Spain and other western countries, Israel is a victim of this global jihad.
Some will argue that terrorism against Israel and terrorism against Britain are entirely separate. I disagree. They are closely linked. Like Britain and other western countries, Israel represents a bastion of western idealsof democracy, capitalism and the rule of law.
the best long-term security for us is the spread of freedom, democracy and values that all civilised people share.[Official Report, 11 January 2006; Vol. 441, c. 278.]
Mr. Blunt: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. He is setting the historical context for this debate. However, we are approaching not only the anniversary of 7/7, but the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David hotel. Rather more people were killed on that day than were killed on 7/7. That attack was carried out by someone who, in 1946, was called a terrorist, but he went on to become the Prime Minister of Israel.
In setting the context for our debate, I hope that my hon. Friend will look at both sides of the argument and examine how movements develop, how the tactics of those engaged in a national liberation struggle have changed, and how peoples view of the characters involved in an unfolding drama and an appalling history have changed over time.
Michael Fabricant: My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. Indeed, my father was in the British Army in the middle east at that time, and was based at the King David hotel. As it happened, he had just gone out for a sandwich, otherwise I would not be here today.
Of course, there are some big differences between the two events. We now know that the Irgun Zvai Leumi made an alarm call to the hotel but that it was ignored by the British forces. We must also remember that it was British forces who were based at the hotel, not innocent civilians. I do not condone terrorism, but to compare what the terrorist organisation Irgun Zvai Leumi did to the King David hotel with the blowing up of innocent civilians in night clubs in Israel is completely and utterly false.
It is our responsibility to take every conceivable measure to combat worldwide terrorism and to stand up to those who aim to destroy our values. We must ally ourselves with states such as Israel that share our ideals of freedom and democracy, and have enjoyed success in fighting terrorism. The terrorists who attack Israel and those who attack Britain have one aimto destroy the western values of freedom and democracy, and to install an extremist form of Islam in the shape of a worldwide caliphate. We have seen the oppression inflicted through sharia law by the Taliban in Afghanistan and by the fundamentalist regime in Iran.
Anti-western hostility drives the global terror networks. Fundamentalist Islamists do not hate the west because of Israel; they hate Israel because the state of Israel is a bulwark of democracy, Judeo-Christian ethics of tolerance, western progress and freedom in the middle east.
The purpose of todays debate is to recognise the global nature of terrorism, which is supported and aided by state sponsors of terrorism, and to urge the Government to take all necessary measures against those states that prop up radical Islamist terrorist organisations and to co-operate with Israel in the face of continued threats to its existence by hostile neighboursthe state sponsors of terrorism, Iran and Syria, and the terrorist groups that they support.
There is no international terrorism without the support of states. International terrorism cannot be sustained for long without the regimes that aid and abet it. Terrorists cannot operate in a vacuum. They train, arm and indoctrinate their killers in safe havens in territories provided by radical states. Those regimes often provide the terrorists with intelligence, money and operational assistance, dispatching them to serve as deadly proxies to wage a hidden war against more powerful enemies.
The Iranian regime is a principal player in supporting global terrorism, as our forces in Basra have found to their cost. Since 1979, when the Islamic republic was established, the Iranian regime has viewed terrorism as a legitimate means to further its ideological and strategic aimsexporting the revolution, assisting worldwide Islamist groups and attacking Israel. Hezbollah, Irans Shiite revolutionary proxy in southern Lebanon, is the spearhead for Irans export of terrorism, aimed globally and particularly at Israel. Iran also supports Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Britain and Israel share a common interestthe common threat posed by Hezbollah. Not only does Hezbollah target Israelis and Jews across the world, from Argentina to north Africa, but it provides Shia militias in Iraq with weaponry and training in terrorist tactics to kill British soldiers. With representation in 40 countries, Hezbollah has the capability to prepare attacks against western interests.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): I am still struggling a little with the hon. Gentlemans definition of terrorism. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House abhor the targeting of innocent civilians from wherever it comes. However, in answer to the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt), he seemed to draw a distinction between the targeting of innocent civilians by what he called Palestinian terrorists and the killing of British regular soldiers in the King David hotelalthough I am sure he does not approve of the latter. Would he also draw a distinction between the targeting of Israeli civilians by Palestinian fighters and the targeting of Israeli troops?
Michael Fabricant: In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate, I said that all terrorism is wrong. However, my hon. Friend was trying to imply a similarity between the dreadful attack on the King David hotel, when advance warning to evacuate the hotel was ignored, and attacks such as that on Mikes restaurant and discotheque in Tel Aviv, when no advance warning was given. All terrorism is wrong; the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right.
Moreover, there is evidence that Hezbollah is facilitating al-Qaedas plans to attack Israel. On 27 December 2005, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for firing Katyusha rockets into northern Israel from southern Lebanon, a feat impossible without the knowledge and permission of Hezbollah. We in Britain must not stand idly by while Iran arms and finances some of the most dangerous international terrorist organisations. Yet Hezbollah in its entirety does not feature on the British or European Union list of proscribed terrorist organisations. The European Union is lagging behind the United Nations Security Council, which, in June 2005, condemned Hezbollahs attacks on Israel and reiterated demands, under UN Security Council resolution 1559, that the organisation be disarmed and that Lebanon exercise sovereignty over its border with Israel.
If the Government are taking the fight against terrorism seriously, why are they not doing more to force Hezbollah on to the EU list of terror organisations, and to prevent the raising of funds to perpetrate acts of terrorism against British and Israeli targets?
Mr. David Gauke (South-West Hertfordshire) (Con):
I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. On Hezbollah, is he aware of the view held by some academics that, in the event of the relationship between Iran and the west deterioratingparticularly if there is the prospect of a military interventionone of the methods that the Iranian regime would very probably
use against the west would be terrorism through Hezbollah? For the west, the threat of terrorists from Hezbollah is very real.
Michael Fabricant: My hon. Friend raises an important point. In this debate, I am talking about things that have actually happened and clear evidence of Hezbollah involvement; I do not wish to speculate on future events. However, I know that the view that he just expressed is very widely held by military and intelligence experts in the west. I thank him for that helpful intervention.
In April, it emerged that Iran has some 40,000 suicide bombers poised to strike at Britain and elsewhere. Dr. Hassan Abbasi, the head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, has warned would-be martyrs to
pay close attention to wily England
Britains demise is on our agenda.
The Iranian regime is a major threat to international peace and security. A fundamentalist regime hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons is a threat to the west because it would grant the terror network, including al-Qaeda, a nuclear umbrella and allow Iran to increase its support for global terrorism. While the UN Security Council grapples with the Iranian nuclear issue, Iran threatens Britain, the United States and Israel. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel with annihilation, denied the existence of the holocaust, and continues to incite anti-Semitism worldwide.
We in Britain must recognise that the threats issued by Iran are not empty and that they are directed not only against Israel, but directly against us in the west. Innocent British lives will be at risk if we fail to combat that brand of international terrorism. What is the difference between Iranian extremists promising to send suicide bombers to Britain and Iranian-funded Palestinian terrorists blowing up innocent civilians in Tel Aviv?
One of the most striking examples of the links between terrorism in Britain and that in Israel came in 2003. With direction from Hamas, two British-born Muslim suicide bombersAsif Hanif, from London, and Omar Khan Sharif, from Derbyattacked Mikes Place, a popular British bar in Tel Aviv, killing three Israelis and wounding 60 others.
The media, including the BBC, use moral equivalence to compare Israeli reactions to terror attacks with the attacks themselves. However, let us be perfectly clear: there is no moral equivalence between a terrorist who blows up a bus, hotel, marketplace or ice cream parlour and a response by a democratic state to find and root out those terrorists.
I have considerable sympathy with those British troops serving in Northern Ireland during the troubles who were vilified for overreacting in the face of terrorist violence. It is only too easy for armchair commentators and politicians to criticise soldiers from either country, on the ground, defending us.
Make no mistakethe terrorist organisations in the west bank and Gaza are willing tools of the wider causes of Islamic jihad. Not only is Hezbollah training
and financing Palestinian terrorist organisations such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, but, as confirmed by the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, in those territories, there are now terrorist cells that have been recruited and funded by al-Qaeda networks operating from Israels near neighbours, Jordan and, yes, Egypt too.
I recognise that there has been suffering on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; many innocent lives have been lost. As our Prime Minister says, the only resolution of this conflict will be a two-state solution, reached through negotiation and a complete end to terrorism: a viable Palestinian state that lives side by side with a secure Israel.
Jeremy Corbyn: Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that in his discourse he should say something about Israels breach of international law in its construction of the wall and in the killing of wholly innocent civilians by Israeli forces? For example, there were that poor family who died on the beach in Gaza and the children assassinated by Israeli troops operating illegally in the west bank and Gaza.
Michael Fabricant: I take issue with the hon. Gentleman when he talks about children being assassinated; that implies that there was a deliberate attempt by Israel to kill children. I do not accept that at all. Of course I have sympathy with those killed when Israelis go into Gaza and the west bank to try to eradicate the terrorists.
The wall has been the subject of other debates, and I shall not go into the issue now. In fairness, I have to sayand the hon. Gentleman should knowthat I do not totally agree with the route that the wall is taking. However, the wall, or barrier, is a necessary defence. IfGod forbidScotland got its independence and started attacking Britain, perhaps we would build a Hadrians wall to defend ourselves. Of course I do not defend the route of the wall, but we are not discussing that issue now. For the benefit of any Scottish people listening to this debate, I hasten to add that I am sure that they want neither independence nor to attack England.
Let me move on. Every day since the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip in August 2005 and the total withdrawal of settlers and soldiers, rockets have been firedmore than 500 to dateby Palestinian terrorists into Israeli towns. Hamas, Palestinian popular resistance committees, Islamic Jihad and splinter groups of Fatah have all claimed responsibility and pledged further attacks against Israelis in community centres, schools, homes and shops. Despite Abu Mazens condemnation, no Palestinian political leaders have taken any steps to curb the launch of Qassam rockets or other terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings.
The Gaza strip remains a safe haven for terrorists. Sadly, that is why the actions mentioned by the hon. Gentleman have had to happen. The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has not only refused to take any action, but openly encouraged continued acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.
The 25 June terrorist attack against an Israeli defence forces position near a kibbutz, Kerem Shalom, was not, as media outlets have argued, a revenge attackthat was just sloppy journalismbut the culmination of a three-month project that involved the excavation of a tunnel originating from a Palestinian apartment block in Gaza. Clearly, that situation could not be allowed to continue.
I gave a rather clumsy argument about Scotland, but I ask again what Britain would do in such circumstances. Would it stand idly by as its innocent civilians were attacked? Of course not. We cannot have double standards and condemn Israel; we have to look at what Israel is doing. All nations have a duty of care to protect their citizens and since Israels withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005, 36 Israelis have been killed and 436 others wounded.
Let us be clear that democratic and free nations need to work together to combat terrorism. Israel cannot be treated differently from countries in the western alliance because of the protracted conflict with the Palestinians. It is because of that conflict and decades at the hands of brutal terrorism that Israel should be accepted as part of the western alliances global war against terrorism.
Israel has played a vital role in the struggle against global jihad. If it were not for its contribution to counter-terrorism and its daily struggle on the front line of terrorist attacks by global players such as Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, the middle east and the rest of the world would be far less stable. It is testament to Israeli security and intelligence services that its counter-terrorism activities in the middle east have had much success.
To support its war on terrorism, Israel has developed a highly co-ordinated and efficient intelligence apparatus. Britain must learn from Israeli examples of gathering human intelligence on terrorism by deploying undercover agents in Palestinian-controlled areas and recruiting local informants, and from examples of the vigilance and awareness of the Israeli public in preventing terrorism. Signals intelligence is no substitute for human intelligence, and MI6 is taking that on board. Incidentally, as we approach 7/7, I urge the British public to be vigilant, whether they be in London, Birmingham, Manchester or even in rural areas.
While paying tribute to the work of our own Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service and GCHQ, I also want to express our gratitude to the Israel security agency, Shin Bet, and to Mossad, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau and the intelligence arms of the Israeli police service and defence forces. We recognise that the time may not be right for Israel to join NATO as a full and equal member, although I would welcome it, but there would be considerable advantages for NATO if it were to upgrade its relations with Israel. Israel meets all the NATO criteria: it is a democracy with a free market economy, and it has logistics and intelligence capabilities that have been vital in the
global war on terrorism. For example, it recently launched the Eros B high resolution reconnaissance satellite to monitor Irans nuclear sites.
Both human and signals intelligence can reduce the potency of global terrorism, but it should also be our objective to put an end to state support for terrorism and to cut off the financing, arming and training of terrorist cells.
In conclusion, may I ask the Minister four questions? I gave him prior notice of them and hope that he will answer them fully when he replies. First, will he confirm that Britain will take all necessary steps to combat international terrorism and will aim to add Hezbollahs political wing to the European Union list of terror organisations? Hezbollahs political and military wings are one and the same. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah leads both. There are similarities with the odd distinction that was made between Sinn Fein and the IRA during the troubles. They, too, were one and the same.
Secondly, will the Minister encourage his colleagues to ensure that there is even closer co-operation between our Security Service and that of Israel? Thirdly, will the Government give an assurance that Britain will begin co-ordinated and effective steps to force state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran, Syria and the Sudan to stop supporting global terrorist organisations? Finally, will he assure the House, in the light of Israels contribution to the global fight against terrorism, that the United Kingdom will guarantee Israels security, particularly in respect of the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran? That nation exports fundamentalist ideology and terrorism.
Let there be no mistake: it is clear that Israels security is wrapped up with our own. It is in the interest of our nation and the British people that we work with and defend the state of Israel in the global fight against terror.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|