MPs focus on attacking Israel in Parliament

By Jennifer Lipman, December 27, 2012

More than £6,000 of taxpayers’ money has been used by MPs to submit a “disproportionate number” of early day motions about Israel since the start of the parliamentary session.

In total, according to the online parliamentary archive, 21 EDMs (formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, although not necessarily discussed) relating to Israel have been put forward since the 2012-2013 session began.

In contrast, just two refer to the situation in Syria, only one mentions Bahrain and only five discuss the rising tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of the 851 motions submitted since parliament was formally opened, just three are about Egypt and its treatment of the Coptic Christian minority, only eight make mention of Iran and only one addresses the situation in Libya.

The estimated cost of an EDM is £290, meaning the cost to the taxpayer of the 21 motions relating to Israel runs to at least £6090.

The motions cover issues including settlement construction, the treatment of Palestinians and the recent fighting in Gaza, but a search of the archive reveals that no motions about Hamas’ activities were tabled in this period. The most support was for a motion tabled by Labour’s Richard Burden last month on the UN recognition of Palestine, which attracted 106 signatures.

21 EDMs on Israel, just three on Egypt, eight on Iran

MPs who have sponsored motions about Israel include LibDem Sir Bob Russell, Respect’s George Galloway and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Conservative MP Peter Bottomley is a frequent supporter such EDMs, as is Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, said he believed that the EDMs were a “co-ordinated campaign by the Palestinian lobby which presents a very jaded and one-sided view.

“It is astonishing that these people rarely do EDMs on the genocide in Syria and the dictatorships in other Arab countries,” he said.

“They only seem to care about what is going on in the West Bank, not what is going on in the rest of the Middle East. This shows a completely disproportionate focus on Israel”.

Ben Garratt, deputy director of Labour Friends of Israel, urged MPs signing EDMs or taking part in broader debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to engage constructively, and to focus on other issues in the region.

Last updated: 4:45pm, December 27 2012