UK minister: Disabled not worth minimum wage

Freud said in 2012 the poor should take the biggest risks as 'they’ve got least to lose' [Policy Exchange]

A British government minister has been forced to apologise after he said that some disabled people were “not worth” the country’s minimum wage and some could be paid less than a third of the rate.

David Freud, the Tory minister for welfare reform, on Wednesday made a “full and unreserved apology” after it was revealed he made the comments during a meeting on the fringes of the Conservative Party’s conference last month.

In the recording, Freud is heard responding to a question about the disabled: “There is a small … there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage.”

He goes on to say that someone who wants to work for less than the minimum wage, currently the equivalent of $10.35 an hour, should be allowed to do so, and specifically refers to a rate equivalent to $3.20.

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‘Scandalous’: 1.6m UK pensioners living in poverty


More than one and a half million British pensioners are “floundering” on low incomes and consigned to poverty, a report by elderly care charity Age UK suggests.

The research, How We Can End Pensioner Poverty, published on Friday, reveals that poverty among pensioners is rife in Britain, with 1.6 million living below the poverty line and a startling 900,000 living in “severe poverty.”

While Age UK acknowledges the number of this category of British pensioner has fallen since 2000, the charity warns progress has stalled recently.

The charity’s research reveals the single biggest cause of pensioner poverty in Britain is older peoples’ failure to claim from the £5.5bn state benefit they are entitled to. These benefits would amount to an extra £1,700 per year, or £33 per week, for the claimants in question.

The charity says it assisted UK pensioners in claiming £160m worth of benefits in 2013. But it warns many continue to “miss out on the money that is theirs by right.”

(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

As a result, struggling pensioners have difficulty affording life’s most basic essentials, Age UK warns, with fresh produce, warm garments, and adequate heating in winter time unattainable to many.

Age UK argues many of these pensioners have “been walking a tightrope in recent years,” in the wake of increases in the cost of food and utility bills. One 88 year-old pensioner, Lilly, told the charity she “was going to bed at seven o’clock to keep warm” because she “couldn’t turn the heating on.”

Some 2.2 million pensioners are not claiming their Council Tax Benefit – a sum of £728 per year – while 390,000 older people are not claiming £48 of housing benefit per week, Age UK warns.

The charity’s research indicates many pensioners are unaware of their benefit entitlements, while others were simply to embarrassed or too proud to claim the money.

Pensioner poverty ‘scandal’

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says the sheer volume of vulnerable older people living in poverty in Britain is “nothing short of a scandal.”

A large proportion of UK pensioners are “unable to afford decent food, heat their home or live an independent life – when billions of pounds in benefits are unclaimed,” she warns.

Among the charity’s key recommendations is a call for clear targets to reduce poverty with a view to abolishing it altogether. Efforts must be made to increase pensioners’ awareness of their entitlements and ensure they have all the information they require, the report said.

Other policy recommendations include the immediate introduction of a single-tier state pension system, the extension of the “triple lock guarantee” to additional aspects of the state pension, and increased “social support” for financially struggling pensioners.


RT asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) how the government plans to tackle the issue. A spokesman claimed “there are many definitions of poverty,” adding the government’s commitment“to protect pensioners with the triple lock guarantee means the basic state pension is at the highest percentage of earnings since 1992.”

“We are absolutely determined to make sure that pensioners receive the full support they are entitled to with as little hassle as possible,” the spokesman added.

News of widespread pensioner poverty and falling living standards comes as new revelations show financial inequality is rising in the UK.

Britain is the only G7 country where inequality has grown since the start of the 21st century, according to a report by Credit Suisse published on Tuesday. The research indicated the UK’s richest 10 percent have become wealthier since the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Britain’s highest earning boss, Simon Peckham, earns the nation’s annual living wage in a mere 49 minutes, it emerged on Friday. Peckham earned a startling 2,238 times more than the £13,923 thought to be sufficient to sustain a basic cost of living in Britain.

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Britain to re-deploy drones from Afghanistan to Iraq


Britain will shortly begin re-deploying its unmanned armed drones from Afghanistan to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament on Thursday.

The remotely-piloted Reaper aircraft will provide surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence support to the Iraqi troops and international coalition forces taking on the IS group in northern Iraq.

The drones can also launch bombs and missiles.

It will be the first time Britain has deployed Reapers outside Afghanistan, where Britain is completing a pull-out of combat troops this year.

“We are in the process of re-deploying some of our Reaper remotely-piloted aircraft from Afghanistan to the Middle East,” Hammond said.

Britain already has eight Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter jets conducting bombing raids on Islamic State targets in Iraq.

“Approximately 20-30 percent of Iraq’s populated territory could be under ISIL control. Liberating this territory from ISIL is a medium term challenge, to be measured in months and years, not days and weeks,” Hammond said.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The surveillance capability of Reaper will see it provide vital situational awareness, making it an invaluable asset to the Iraqi government and the coalition allies.

“If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed.”

The US-made Reapers are normally armed with two Paveway laser-guided bombs and four Hellfire missiles for precision strikes.

The Ministry of Defence also said a small group of British infantry have completed a week training the Kurdish forces fighting extremists in using the heavy machine guns Britain gave them last month.

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UK Lawmakers Vote to Recognize Statehood for Palestine


‘This is not an alternative to negotiations. It is a bridge for beginning them,’ said MP Ian Lucas

The House of Commons, pictured in 2010. (Photo: UK Parliament/flickr/cc)

The House of Commons, pictured in 2010. (Photo: UK Parliament/flickr/cc)

The UK parliament on Monday voted to recognize Palestine as a state alongside Israel, passing the non-binding agreement 274 to 12 in a symbolic move that could nonetheless have implications internationally.

The House of Commons backed the agreement as a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution,” although less than half of Ministers of Parliament voted after the four-hour debate had finished. The measure does not actually require the British government to act.

Grahame Morris, the Labour minister who introduced the motion, said it was a “small but important symbolic step.” Middle East MP Tobias Ellwood said the UK should wait to accept Palestine as a state until it was “appropriate for the peace process,” and that the timing of their recognition would be “critical… You can, after all, only play this card once.”

Prime Minister David Cameron supported Israel during its attack on Gaza over the summer, which saw more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis killed over weeks of shelling, bombing, and ground attacks, and Haaretz notes that despite recent political statements of waning approval for the Israeli government, “British-Israel trade has soared to record levels.”

However, Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv told Haaretz that Monday’s Parliamentary measure “is a sign of the way the wind is blowing, and will continue to blow without any progress towards peace.”

Morris downplayed the impact of the measure on Israeli interests, stating at the beginning of the debate that “recognition of Palestine does not mean causing any harm to Israel. The opposite, it is for Israel’s good as well.”

Almost all of the speakers, including those who supported the motion, acknowledged Israel’s right to exist in security. But even some of those who voted against recognizing Palestine offered warnings of declining support for Israel. Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, who voted against the measure on the grounds that Palestine “is not yet fit to be a state,” also said that “Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

“I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people,” Ottaway said.

Ellwood seemed to agree, telling Parliament that while Israel lived in a “tough neighborhood,” its recent actions—including continued land grabs and settlement expansions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—seemed to go against the country’s stated commitment to peace.

Shadow foreign minister Ian Lucas said the Labour party’s support of the measure was intended to “strengthen the moderate voices among the Palestinians who want to pursue the path of politics, not the path of violence.”

“This is not an alternative to negotiations. It is a bridge for beginning them,” he said.

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CPS tells George Galloway he faces no charges over ‘Israel-free zone’ speech

Respect party MP says investigation into him has been ‘an extremely expensive waste of police and CPS time.
George Galloway

Respect MP George Galloway outside Parliament last month. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

George Galloway will not face charges over a speech he made in August declaring Bradford an “Israel-free zone”.

The Respect MP for Bradford West was interviewed by police under caution over claims that his statements in Leeds had incited racial hatred.

The Crown Prosecution Service said on Wednesday night it had decided not to charge Galloway, who labelled the allegations “an extremely expensive waste of police and CPS time”.

He added: “My comments were aimed at the state of Israel which – I repeat what I said at the time – is an illegal, savage and barbarous state, and had nothing whatever to do with race or religion.

“I take back not a word and I will continue to forcefully condemn Israel.”

Chief Supt Paul Money, Leeds district commander, said West Yorkshire police received several complaints about Galloway’s speech on 2 August and a full investigation was carried out as a result.

“A file was submitted to the CPS for advice on whether any offences had been committed and they have now concluded there is insufficient evidence to support any charges,” he said.

“West Yorkshire police have recorded this matter as a hate incident.

“A hate incident is any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by prejudice or hate towards a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Deborah Walsh, of the CPS special crime and counter-terrorism division, said: “Given the context and setting in which the speech was made, including its overall content and the audience discussion which followed, we have determined that the speech did not indicate a desire to encourage others to hate a racial group.

“There is also insufficient evidence to show, in all the circumstances of this case, that it was likely that people would have been motivated to hate people of Israeli origin as a result.”

She said the CPS determined that the comments “were not made in a threatening manner, nor could they be considered abusive, to which case law has attached a high criminal threshold by defining as ‘extremely offensive and insulting’.

“Furthermore, case law is clear that any offending behaviour must actually have occurred within the sight or hearing of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm and distress, and that it is insufficient that someone might or could have seen or heard the offending behaviour.”

Walsh added: “Having considered the evidence in relation to the audience at the public meeting, its reaction and the fact that Mr Galloway does not appear to have made the speech more widely available, we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute.”

Galloway won the seat in a 2012 byelection with a 36% swing from Labour, giving Respect a majority of more than 10,000.

In the runup to the byelection, he had called for British troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan.

Galloway’s speech prompted Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, to visit Bradford and tweet pictures of himself holding an Israeli flag next to a sign welcoming visitors.

The act was described as a “deliberate provocation” by Zulfi Karim, secretary of the Bradford Council for Mosques, who called on both Galloway and Taub to stop using Bradford for their own political ends.

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What an appalling mess: He won £1m from taxpayers after being freed from Guantanamo. Now a terror trial against a Birmingham Muslim radical has collapsed after MI5 admitted links to him


Moazzam Begg

  • Moazzam Begg walked free from jail after terrorist charges were dropped 

  • Police and prosecutors received new evidence and dropped the case

  • MI5 revealed extensive contacts with Begg before and after his Syrian trips

  • He discussed his travel plans and said he was assisting opposition fighters

  • Begg was in custody for seven months awaiting trial, due to start Monday

  • He was held in Guantanamo in 2002, but released without charge in 2005

3 October 2014

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg walked free from jail on Wednesday after a string of terrorist charges linked to the civil war in Syria were dramatically dropped

Soon after the Gulf War ended Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, a secret memo about a dangerous British prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay detention camp was sent to America’s military top brass.

It landed on the desks of officers at the U.S. Defence Department in Miami in November 2003 and was signed by Geoffrey D. Miller, the commander of the camp in Cuba, which was notorious for incarcerating suspected Islamic terrorists from all over the world without trial.

The memo said that prisoner UK-000558 (a number tag detailing his country of origin) had been picked up by American secret services during a raid at his rented family home in Pakistan, before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation.

He was, asserted Major General Miller, a member of Al Qaeda, a ‘high threat’ to America and her Allies, and should not be set free. The prisoner’s detailed knowledge about terrorist training camps he had attended in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the 1990s meant he was also of ‘significant intelligence value’ to the West.

We only know about this highly confidential memo because it emerged among 779 military intelligence files relating to Guantanamo prisoners discovered and posted online by Wikileaks three years ago.

Prisoner UK-000558 was actually Birmingham-born Moazzam Begg, who was held in Guantanamo after being arrested in Pakistan in February 2002.

He was released in 2005 without charge, along with three other remaining Britons in the detention camp, following ‘intensive and complex’ negotiations between the British and U.S. governments.

On his return to this country, he became a passionate campaigner on behalf of Guantanamo prisoners, a vocal critic of Western foreign policy in the Middle East, and a hero to thousands of followers.

Fast forward almost a decade to this week and Begg was, once again, emerging smiling from jail.

This time, it was from London’s Belmarsh Prison after a terrorism case against him — due to begin at the Old Bailey next Monday — was abandoned by police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Begg was held in Guantanamo after being arrested in Pakistan in February 2002, but was released without charge in 2005, along with three other remaining Britons in the detention camp

Begg was held in Guantanamo after being arrested in Pakistan in February 2002, but was released without charge in 2005, along with three other remaining Britons in the detention camp

He denied seven charges of terrorism, including attending a training camp in Syria between 2012 and 2013

He denied seven charges of terrorism, including attending a training camp in Syria between 2012 and 2013

This time he had been charged — on seven counts related to terrorism, all of which he denied, including attending a terrorist training camp in Syria between 2012 and 2013, possessing terrorist-related documents and helping to fund terrorism.

Then, astonishingly, the case was suddenly dropped at a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday.

In one of the most embarrassing fiascos for the security services in recent years, at the last minute ‘new information’ fatally undermined the prospect of a successful outcome of the trial for the police and the CPS.

It appears that MI5 belatedly produced documents that revealed their extensive conta-cts with Begg before and after trips he made to Syria in recent years.
They included  minutes of  meetings that MI5  officers and  lawyers held with him at which he discussed his travel plans and said he was assisting opposition fighters in their war against President Assad's regime.

The farcical collapse of the case as he watched via a video link from Belmarsh, where he has been incarcerated for the past seven months, took even the heavily-bearded Begg by surprise.

‘To be honest, I wanted my day in court,’ he said on Wednesday, before being driven back home to his wife and four children in Birmingham. ‘But I was very happy when I heard the news.’

'New information' fatally undermined the prospect of a successful outcome of the trial for the police 

‘New information’ fatally undermined the prospect of a successful outcome of the trial for the police

Needless to say, 46-year-old Begg’s freedom has delighted his supporters in the Muslim community, who have protested his innocence ever since he was arrested in February this year.

The one-time Islamic bookshop owner and human rights activist has become one of the UK’s most high-profile Muslims since the ‘war on terror’ was launched after the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. And this latest episode — in which once again he has made a fool of the authorities — can only increase his stature.

Speaking from outside prison on his release, he said: ‘Not once, but twice in my case, this Government has been involved either in directly detaining me or indirectly detaining me, and on both occasions it’s been unlawful.’

So who is Moazzam Begg? And how did he come to be such a thorn in the side of the intelligence agencies in their fight against terrorism?

Begg was born in the Midlands to respectable middle-class parents. His father, a bank manager, emigrated here from Pakistan and the family were the first Asians to settle in their Birmingham street. Begg was sent to a Jewish school in the city because ‘it was the next best thing’ to a Muslim education.

His release has  delighted his supporters in the Muslim community, who have protested his innocence ever since he was arrested in February this year

His release has delighted his supporters in the Muslim community, who have protested his innocence ever since he was arrested in February this year

An inmate at Guantanamo Bay being led handcuffed by guards at the detention facility

An inmate at Guantanamo Bay being led handcuffed by guards at the detention facility

Yet in his teens he was already brushing with the law, joining the multi-ethnic Lynx street gang to fight skinheads intent on violence against immigrants, and particularly those from Pakistan.

Eventually, in his 20s, he gave up the gang and began working for a family grocery company.

But he also became increasingly interested in Islam, especially after holidays to visit family in Pakistan, where he was invited to visit a training camp for Muslim fighters who were sympathetic to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

From there on, many of the stories about the well-spoken and articulate Moazzam Begg descend into hearsay. He has always strenuously denied ever being involved in terrorism, although this is starkly at odds with the signed statement he gave to FBI agents after his capture in Pakistan.

In this, Begg admits to having attended three separate Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, where he learned to fire AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and use primitive explosive devices.

He also said that, when living in Britain and running his Islamic bookshop in Birmingham, he acted as a ‘communications link’ between radical Muslims in the UK and others living abroad.

The bookshop, he told the FBI in a statement,was a focal point 'for assisting Islamic militants by spreading Islam and recruiting individuals for global jihad'.

The shop was raided by MI5 in 2001 and Begg was questioned about the possession of an illegal weapon and illegal terrorism activities.

It was after this incident that he and his family moved to Afghanistan and, then, Pakistan, where he was arrested by the FBI.

He was taken first to the U.S. military detention centre at Bagram — where he says he was abused, which the Pentagon denies — and then to Guantanamo.

Today, he lives comfortably with his wife and four children in a £400,000 house in one of the smarter suburbs of Birmingham.

The source of his money? A controversial Government compensation payout in 2010 to former Guantanamo detainees, which saw Begg receive £1 million after successfully claiming that Britain was complicit in his original abduction by U.S. intelligence services, and then his mistreatment at Bagram camp in Afghanistan.

The fact is that MI5 has flirted with Begg for years (even allegedly trying to recruit him as an undercover spy), despite — or perhaps because of — their suspicions he has a shadowy past with alleged links to Islamic terrorism.

They have not only held meetings with him in secret, and monitored his blogs and emails, they have sent their operatives to listen as he makes his speeches up and down the country.

Indeed, a blog published by Begg before he was charged in February explains exactly what MI5 knew all the time. He wrote: ‘In October 2012, I was called by an MI5 officer who said he wanted to talk to me about my views on the situation in Syria after reading an article I had written.

‘I told him I was investigating several leads regarding British and American complicity in rendition and torture in Syria. MI5 called back after consulting with their lawyers, and said they understood that and would still like to meet.

‘I agreed to speak to them at a hotel in East London. Both MI5 and I had our lawyers present.’ The blog continues: ‘MI5 was concerned about the possibility of Britons in Syria being radicalised, and returning to pose a potential threat to national security.

‘I told them that Britain had nothing to worry about, especially since British foreign policy, at the time, seemed in favour of the rebels (against President Assad).

‘At the end of the meeting I was assured by MI5 that my proposed return to Syria to continue my work would not be hindered.

‘Subsequently, I travelled to Syria without incident.

‘I witnessed the squalid refugee camps, I visited the wounded — young and old, some of whom I buried; I saw the carnage of the killing machine and I saw the beautiful young faces of children aged beyond their years.

‘I witnessed the harsh winter and saw farmers chop down their olive trees to warm themselves and I heard the horror stories of torture …

‘I also saw aid coming in from all over the Muslim world, which included British ambulances, fire engines, garbage disposal trucks.

‘There were British aid centres and hospitals with British doctors, and volunteers from Britain’s Muslim community. And yes, there were some British fighters, too . . .’

Yet despite MI5′s apparent assurance to him that he would be left unhindered, Begg’s passport was seized when he was stopped at Heathrow Airport last December as he returned from a trip to South Africa for a service to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela.

‘I was told my previous visits to Syria had constituted involvement in terrorism,’ he wrote in a subsequent blog, before being sent to Belmarsh jail.

And there the matter rested until this week.

So what exactly was the reason for the 11th-hour abandonment of what was going to be a high-profile trial? Was it that MI5′s contacts with Begg and broken assurances to him undermined the case for the prosecution?

Or could Begg’s release be linked to something else? To a behind-the-scenes deal to free British hostages held by the Islamic State in Syria, for instance?

One of the hostages is, of course, Alan Henning, the non-Muslim Manchester taxi driver who was seized while travelling to the strife-riddled country on a convoy run by a charity group, Rochdale Aid4Syria, which had actively campaigned for Begg’s release from Belmarsh on its Facebook page and other websites.

There are lurid — and unconfirmed — rumours that some members of the charity were sympathetic to hard-line Islam, and even Islamic State itself.

The charity, and others in Lancashire, have already come under MI5 scrutiny for naming a fire engine on an earlier aid convoy to Syria after a female terrorist, Aafia Siddiqui, who is dubbed ‘Lady Al Qaeda’ by counter-terrorism police.

Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence in America for trying to shoot two U.S. soldiers after being arrested in Afghanistan in possession of bomb-making instructions.

Islamic State demanded Siddiqui’s release in exchange for the life of U.S. hostage and journalist James Foley, who was beheaded six weeks ago.

Do our intelligence services think Begg’s freedom will be a lever to get Alan Henning’s release?

Do they believe he possesses secrets that will help them in the fight against Islamic terror in this country and abroad?

Do they think — just as the U.S. Major General at Guantanamo Bay did of prisoner UK-000558 — that Begg is of ‘significant intelligence value’ to the West.

We cannot know, of course. And this week, after the trial’s collapse, MI5 was staying predictably silent.

Moazzam Begg, meanwhile, will no doubt be preparing his latest compensation claim.

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Galloway: Why I Cannot Support This Motion on Palestine


By George Galloway

Statement from George Galloway on Parliament Palestine motion

October 14, 2014 “ICH” – October 11, 2014 - I have been urged by a number of my constituents to support a motion being debated and voted on in parliament on Monday “that this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”.

As many probably know the Palestinian cause has been central to my political activity for the last 40 years. I appreciate the good intentions many have in urging me to support this motion.

However, unfortunately I cannot support this motion as it accepts recognition of the state of Israel, does not define borders of either state or address the central question of the right of return of the millions of Palestinians who have been forced to live outside Palestine.

Israel was a state born in 1948 out of the blood of the Palestinians who were hounded from their land. Since then it has grabbed ever more land from the Palestinian people. In the last five years it has twice launched murderous assaults on the Palestinian people of Gaza, some 1.8 million people crammed into what is in effect a prison camp. In the wake of the most recent war on Gaza, Israel has announced its biggest land grab in the Occupied West Bank so far. Israel has defied UN resolution after UN resolution with impunity because of the continued backing of Western countries and, above all, the US.

I continue to support the only realistic solution, one democratic and secular state, called Israel-Palestine or Palestine-Israel. The proposed two-state solution is to all intents and purposes dead and is only used in order to provide Israel further breathing space to consolidate the illegal settlements and expand its land grab further.

For these reasons, I am afraid I cannot support this motion and will abstain on Monday.

George Galloway, MP for Bradford West

See also

The UK Parliment Has Voted to Recognize Palestine as a State :

Voting by 274 to 12, a majority of 262, MPs on all sides urged the Government to ‘recognise the state of Palestine’. Significantly Labour whipped its MPs to vote in favour of the resolution, raising the prospect that the party would defy I$raHell wishes and recognise Palestine as a state should it come to power at the next election.


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A shot across the bows of I$raHell and its stooges

UK parliament votes for Palestine recognition

UK MPs blow a “raspberry” at Netanyahu and his serfsBy Stuart LittlewoodDespite all the veiled threats and the loony posturing of the pro-Israel lobby, parliament voted 274 to 12 on 13 October to recognise Palestine as a state.The motion, as amended, read: “That this House believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The Cameron-led coalition government will no doubt continue to tug the forelock and cuddle up to Israel but, clearly, the Israelis have no veto in the British parliament. There is a different mood among MPs now. The pro-Israel juggernaut has been stopped in its tracks and Netanyahu needn’t think he’ll get a US Congress-style standing ovation here – a right, royal “raspberry” more like.

“A very well aimed shot across the bows of our misguided and increasingly delinquent government”

There are those who dismiss the vote as a futile gesture, pointing out that more than half the MPs stayed away and it’s a non-binding result anyway. Nevertheless, it was a very well aimed shot across the bows of our misguided and increasingly delinquent government. It was a warning to get a grip on the reality of the situation and somehow retrieve their moral compass. It was a reminder that it must accept Britain’s responsibility for the century-long misery in the Holy Land. And it was a clear instruction from the representatives of the British people to act with honour and decency towards those whose future we still have in our hands.

Many MPs, however, were a great disappointment, my own [Henry Bellingham] included. Having written to me that he was looking forward to discussing “one of the most important issues to regional and global security on 13 October” and would “continue to support Palestinian statehoood”, his name was missing from the voting list at the end of the debate. Shame on him.

I suspect many were absent because they were fearful of voting “No” and exposing themselves as utter scoundrels, and terrified of voting “Yes” and having to face the anger their unscrupulous backers, and perhaps forfeiting vital campaign funds.

Agent Cameron‘s men were present. Sir Hugh Robertson, who until a few months ago was minister of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, insisted that the Kerry peace plan remained “an excellent basis for restarting negotiations”, despite its pathetic failure.

We need to freeze the situation on the ground and buy some time for the negotiations… The international community lacks the will to bulldoze £1 million houses built illegally in settlements. We will have to form a new border, probably based on the wall, and then deal with the settlements beyond it if we are to make any progress.

What? Why bulldoze? Why move the internationally recognised border? The Palestinians inherit all homes illegally built on their land. If Israelis want to stay in them they’ll have to become Palestinian citizens. They’ve known that all along.

Gettng paid for spouting tosh

The government’s latest bright young thing, Tobias Ellwood (parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs), announced that bold political steps were necessary to stop the cycle of violence once and for all. Of course, he didn’t mention the most obvious ones.

Gaza must also have an economic plan, he said, though how Palestinians could implement such a plan while strangled and imprisoned by belligerent invaders wasn’t explained. He argued for open borders to goods and people to allow greater connectivity between Gaza and the West Bank. Yes, Ellwood, the “big guns” in the West were arguing for exactly that back in 2005 and again in 2012, and we’re still waiting.

“I fully support the announcement by Baroness Ashton yesterday,” he continued, “in which she said that the EU is analysing the feasibility of a maritime link that could open Gaza to Europe. I discussed that issue with my Palestinian and Israeli counterparts when I was in the region last week.” Hey, Ellwood, I wonder what your Zionist pals said to that?

“It is crucial that the Palestinian Authority return to Gaza to provide services and security,” he said, meaning that hated outfit run by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah thugs, presumably. Why, when the Palestinian people elected Hamas in fair and square elections? Are you suggesting, Ellwood, that they forego their democratic rights and embrace the very set-up that enforces the illegal occupation on behalf of Israel and America in the West Bank?

“The Palestinians must also take steps to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” Why? Does Israel give a fig for the Palestinians’ security concerns?

“The Palestinian Authority must also show leadership, recommitting themselves to dialogue with Israel, and making progress on governance and security for Palestinians in Gaza as well as the West Bank.” And how do you propose they do that, Ellwood, without the enforcement of UN resolutions and international law? Not a single mention of that cruicial precondition.

“The aspirations of the Palestinian people cannot be fully realised until there is an end to the occupation… and we believe that that will come only through negotiations… The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that that can best help bring about peace… because a negotiated end to the occupation is the most effective way for Palestinian aspirations of statehood to be met on the ground.”

To think he gets paid for spouting this tosh!

“Go away and implement the motion,” minister told

So now for some common sense remarks, courtesy of Andy Slaughter. “I have heard two views in opposition to the motion. The first is from people who have no intention of ever  recognising the state of Palestine – unfortunately they include the leadership of Israel at the moment. This view used to come just from people such as Ariel Sharon, but now it comes from Naftali Bennett, the minister with responsibility for the economy, Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and the prime minister himself, Binyamin Netanyahu. Bennett has said: “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state.” Those views are articulated publicly in Israel now because people are emboldened by their own actions and by the international community’s failure to do anything about them.

Who can defend settlement building – the colonisation of another country? We are talking about 600,000 Israeli settlers planted on Palestinian soil. I disagree fundamentally with the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington [Malcolm Rifkind], who said that Gaza was no longer under occupation. It is under occupation; the life is squeezed out of it daily from land, sea and air. Anybody who has visited the West Bank and not come back thinking that it is an apartheid system has their eyes closed. The daily indignities suffered by the Palestinian people there would make many people rise in rebellion…

But I’ll leave the last word to the eloquent Edward Leigh.

My other Damascus moment came when I was standing at the Bethlehem checkpoint and saw the appalling humiliation heaped on Palestinian people. I spoke to a nurse at a hospital I visited as part of a charity I ran. She lived in Bethlehem, just a few miles from Jerusalem. It was just a short walk away, but she was never able to go to the city without enormous difficulties. Bethlehem, of all places, should be a beacon of hope.

I know we will be accused of making a gesture today and I understand the government’s position, but they should listen to the voice of this house. Virtually everybody who has spoken – not just lefties waving placards in Trafalgar square, but virtually every Conservative MP — has said that now is the time to recognise the justice of the Palestinians’ case… We have to recognise, however naive this may sound, that we are part of a common humanity, whether we are Christian, Jew or Arab. When we vote tonight – and I will vote for the motion – we will be making a gesture in favour of that common humanity, and we should be proud of that.

The debate was secured and the motion skilfully put by Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, a mining constituency in County Durham. Winding up, he said:

It is a rare occasion on which the House speaks with one voice, as I think it has this evening… I want to impress on the minister… the need to reflect on the debate. The will of parliament has spoken tonight. It is the right thing to do to recognise Palestine and I hope that he will go away and implement the motion.

Palestinians everywhere, and all campaigners for justice, owe Grahame Morris grateful thanks.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UK, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

The UK House of Commons Palestine vote…

Map showing how Palestine is being swallowed up by Jewish squatter colonies

a well meant but futile gesture

By Alan Hart

For me the most depressing thing about the debate in the British House of Commons on a non-binding motion to recognise Palestine as a state alongside Israel was that all MPs who participated, including those who made informed and honest contributions, still seem to believe that a two-state solution is possible. It isn’t.

One MP, Crispin Blunt, a Conservative and one of the two chairmen of the Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, went some way to indicate why it isn’t but he didn’t complete the journey. He said: “The settlers are a problem for any Israeli government.”

Beyond too late for two-state solution

The reality behind that statement was defined for me as far back as 1980 by Shimon Peres when he accepted me as the linkman in a secret, exploratory dialogue between him and Arafat. (The full story of that initiative is told in “The Blood Oath”, Chapter 12 of Volume Three of the American edition of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.).

Though he welcomed the initiative, Peres said he feared it was “already too late” (for a two-state solution). I asked him why. He replied:

Every day that passes sees new bricks on new settlements. Begin is not stupid. He knows exactly what he is doing. He is stuffing the West Bank with settlers to create the conditions for a Jewish civil war. He knows that no Israeli prime minister is going down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot large numbers of Jews out of the West Bank. Pause. I’m not.

The question I would put to all British MPs (and elected members of parliaments everywhere) is this: If it was too late in 1980 when they were only about 70,000 illegal Jewish settlers on the occupied West Bank, how much more too late is it today when there are about 600,000, with that number rising on an almost daily basis?

”For there to be peace, there has to be a Jewish civil war.” (Late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat)

There is a case for saying that if ever the governments of the US and Western Europe indicated that they were prepared to subject Israel to real pressure (isolation and sanctions) to try to cause it to end the occupation, a significant number of illegal Jewish settlers would be prepared to take their leave of the West Bank in return for compensation; but very many would not. So, as Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat said to me a few months before he was assassinated: ”For there to be peace, there has to be a Jewish civil war.” In principle that’s the case but it will not happen for the reason Peres gave me all those years ago.

The negotiations illusion

Another aspect of the unreality of the House Commons debate was the assumption and assertion of virtually everyone who participated that “peace can only come through negotiations”. The reality this ignores is that Zionism is not interested in good-faith negotiations to produce an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians. Zionism is committed to obtaining for keeps the maximum amount of land with the minimum number of Arabs on it.

The question the British House of Commons (and parliaments everywhere) ought to be debating is this: Are we to go on allowing Israel to defy international law or not?


It was not at all surprising that Conservative MPs who are content to read from Zionism’s script spoke the most nonsense.

One of them, British-born, Jewish Robert Halfon, a former political director of Conservative Friends of Israel and currently Principal Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, said: “The Palestinians already have a state – Jordan.”

He also asserted that if Israel did not have the Iron Dome, “hundreds of thousands” of Israelis would have been killed by Hamas’s rockets.

And he was on the same page as Netanyahu and those to the neo-fascist right of him who prefer to ignore the fact that Hamas’s top leaders have been on the public record for some years with the statement that while Hamas will never recognise Israel’s “right” to exist, it is prepared to live with it in a two-state solution provided that is the wish of the Palestinians as confirmed by a referendum. Halfon asserted that Hamas wanted “only the destruction of Israel”. If he really believes that Hamas could destroy Israel, he’s as nuts as Netanyahu.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UK0 Comments

British Parliament Votes Overwhelmingly to Recognize Palestinian State

Global Research

In a historic move, the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly tonight, 274-12, to recognize a Palestinian state.

#MPs vote 274 to 12 to approve amended motion that Govt recognise #Palestine state alongside #Israel as part of negotiated 2 state solution

The sense of the speechmaking (rush transcript here) was almost entirely in favor of the motion, with members of the House of Commons saying they were reflecting the popular will in the wake of the Gaza slaughter and the failure of the peace process. Some said they were seeking to influence the United States, which has not been an honest broker. Here is the New York Times coverage, indicating it was a symbolic vote. Many speakers said that it was not symbolic, it was historic and long past due, from the country that gave Zionists the Balfour Declaration and that recognized a Jewish state in 1950.

We’ll get up more coverage of the debate later, but I wanted to pass along Sir Richard Ottaway’s speech. A strong supporter of Israel, the Conservative M.P., 69, who represents a London district, said that the country has made him “look like a fool” with its recent settlement announcement and that he is voting for the motion because of that landgrab. “I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”


Image: Richard Ottaway

Here’s his speech from today’s debate:

If the rest of the debate follows the tone of the three speeches that we have heard so far, it will be a memorable debate. The next few minutes will be personally rather painful for me. It was inevitable right since the time of the Holocaust that Israel clearly had to be a state in its own right, and Attlee accepted the inevitable and relinquished the British mandate. In November 1947, the United Nations supported the partition resolution. What was on the table then was a settlement that the Arabs would die for today. In May 1948, Israel became an independent state and came under attack from all sides within hours. In truth, it has been fighting for its existence ever since.

I was a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory. My wife’s family were instrumental in the creation of the Jewish state. Indeed, some of them were with Weizmann at the Paris conference. The Holocaust had a deep impact on me as a young man growing up in the aftermath of the second world war, particularly when I paid a visit as a schoolboy to Belsen…

In the six-day war, I became personally involved. There was a major attempt to destroy Israel, and I found myself as a midshipman in the Royal Navy based on board a minesweeper in Aden, sent by Harold Wilson to sweep the straits of Tiran of mines after the Suez Canal had been blocked. In the aftermath of that war, which, clearly, the Israelis won, the Arab states refused peace, recognition or negotiation.

Six years later, in the Yom Kippur war in 1973, the same situation happened again. It was an emphatic defeat after a surprise attack. Since then, based on the boundaries that were framed after the Yom Kippur war, we have had three thwarted peace agreements, each one better than the last, and we have had two tragedies: the assassination of Rabin and the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon.

Throughout all this, I have stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad. I have sat down with Ministers and senior Israeli politicians and urged peaceful negotiations and a proportionate response to prevarication, and I thought that they were listening. But I realise now, in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.

Turning to the substantive motion, to be a friend of Israel is not to be an enemy of Palestine. I want them to find a way through, and I am delighted by yesterday’s reconstruction package for Gaza, but with a country that is fractured with internal rivalries, that shows such naked hostility to its neighbour, that attacks Israel by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately, that risks the lives of its citizens through its strategic placing of weapons and that uses the little building material that it is allowed to bring in to build tunnels, rather than homes, I am not yet convinced that it is fit to be a state and should be recognised only when there is a peace agreement. Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behaviour in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UK0 Comments


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