MPs on alert over Palestine debate


Supporters of Israel have been asked to defend the state during the latest parliamentary session on Palestinian issues.

Backbenchers will take part in a Westminster Hall debate on Palestinian human rights on Monday.

MPs are expected to challenge Israel’s position on east Jerusalem and tensions around the Al Aqsa mosque; call for an arms embargo on Israel; encourage a boycott of settlement goods; and urge action against Israel for “failing to respect the terms of the Gaza ceasefire”.

The debate will be led by Labour MP Grahame Morris, who secured last month’s historic Commons vote which called on the government to recognise Palestinian statehood.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for next week’s session to take place. There will be no vote following the debate.

The Board of Deputies contacted supporters on Monday and asked them to email their MPs and encourage them to speak in Israel’s favour.

Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel-supporting MPs are also expected to take part. CFI said it had contacted around 20 pro-Israel backbenchers who wanted to speak. “We hope it will be a more balanced debate,” a spokesperson said.

But one leading pro-Israel Labour figure dismissed the debate’s relevance, saying: “The backbench committee wanted to throw it out, but because of the government’s rules on petitions with 100,000 signatories it had to be held.

“We have had all these discussions already. Everything anyone wanted to say was said in October. People will see it’s Grahame Morris and realise the agenda. He is not seen as a serious figure at all.”

A source in the Conservative pro-Israel camp said: “The Palestinian issue will not go away. They will keep banging the same drum. But a Westminster Hall debate is not a big deal.

“The Palestinian lobby is excellent at mobilising support. The pro-Israel camp does not have that same support basis. The community needs to address that.”

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