The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): Events in the region call for a redoubling of international efforts to support peace, stability and democracy. Nowhere is this need more pressing than in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no alternative to negotiations, recommenced as a matter of urgency, to address the fundamental issues at the heart of a two-state solution. We call on the parties to return to the negotiating table, for no other option will bring lasting peace. We will continue to defend human rights and support political and economic freedom throughout a region undergoing momentous change and experiencing a chain of crises, and we will continue to work closely with our allies in the interests of peace and stability for this region and across the world.
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Will the Foreign Secretary protest in the strongest terms to the Israeli Government about the attack by Israeli troops on a group of children on the west bank with tear gas and stun grenades, when they were not involved in any kind of political activity but were having a rare day of organised entertainment and fun? As even the Jewish Chronicle now compares Netanyahu with Ceausescu, when will we take action to deal with these thugs?
Mr Hague: As ever, we call on the Israeli authorities, like any other authorities in the region, to deal proportionately and with only necessary force with any disturbances that may arise. I will look at the instance that the right hon. Gentleman has described and see what representations we should make to the Israeli Government about it. He has heard me many times call for a proportionate response and for the right to peaceful protest. That applies in Israel and the occupied territories just as it should apply elsewhere in the region.
Mr James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): All parties could do more to bring about a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, but does my right hon. Friend agree that it is deeply unrealistic to expect any Israeli Government, of whatever character, to sit down and negotiate in any way or in any forum with Hamas, an organisation which refuses to recognise Israel or to abide by existing agreements, and is causing or permitting the firing of ever deadlier rockets further and further into Israeli territory—not tear gas, but rockets? Can we have more of a focus on clearing away that fundamental obstacle to peace?
Mr Hague: My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to Hamas, which remains a proscribed organisation. I take this opportunity to call again for the release of Gilad Shalit, which, if it were to happen, would certainly advance the interests of peace in the region. We are not calling on Israel to negotiate with Hamas, but we look to the new Palestinian Authority, who are still being constructed after the new agreement between Fatah and Hamas, to negotiate for a two-state solution, to believe in a peaceful negotiated settlement and to recognise the previous agreements entered into by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. If the Palestinian Authority do that, Israel should be prepared to negotiate with them.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary rightly talked about the need for participation by all sides to bring about a resolution of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. In that context, does he think it important to meet representatives of Palestinian opinion who live within the post-1948 borders of Israel, including Raed Salah? Why has Raed Salah been banned from this country, having been here for four days already and being due to speak at a meeting this evening in the House of Commons to help the process of dialogue between Palestinians and others to bring about a peaceful solution?
Mr Hague: Such decisions are made not by me but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. She has to take into account all relevant considerations, and I have absolute confidence in her doing so.
David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that his efforts abroad are undermined when we allow racist, homophobic extremists such as Raed Salah to come into the country and stir up hatred? What we need is peace across Europe and the rest of the middle east.
Mr Hague: That is the alternative view to that expressed by the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), who has received his answer.
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): Earlier today, Palestine solidarity groups, politicians, teachers and others marked the anniversary of the attacks on the Free Gaza flotilla last year by sailing down the river outside Parliament and marking the launch of a new Free Gaza flotilla. As the Foreign Secretary has previously said that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable, will he tell us what further action he is taking to help get the siege lifted, and will he do everything that he can to get guarantees that this new flotilla will be safe from attack?
Mr Hague: We have continued to take the action that I set out in the House last year. We have urged Israel greatly to improve access to Gaza. It has taken some steps, but those steps have not been as fruitful as we had hoped when they were set out. Egypt has now opened an important crossing into Gaza, which may also provide some relief. The answer relies on the general lifting of a blockade of Gaza and on a negotiated two-state solution in the middle east. However, embarking on new flotillas is not the way in which to bring that about. We advise against all travel to Gaza by British nationals, which includes people who may be thinking of boarding a flotilla to go there. We hope that Israel will make only a proportionate response to any such flotilla, but it is, none the less, not the way in which to sort out the problems of the middle east. Such problems require negotiations in good faith by the parties concerned.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): I strongly welcome the Foreign Secretary’s remarks about Israel and Palestine, especially his encouragement to Israel to be open to negotiations on a united Palestinian Authority, if they are freely elected by the Palestinian people. Does he believe that both parties could learn from our own example in Northern Ireland by dropping other unhelpful preconditions to talks, such as those that relate to Jerusalem on the one side or the extent of variations to the 1967 border on the other?
Mr Hague: I will go a long way with my hon. Friend on this. We want a return to negotiations; that is absolutely right. I have set out the conditions under which Israel should resume its negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, which are the same conditions in relation to the PA. We need the negotiations to succeed so we should not be setting new hurdles. Comparisons with negotiations elsewhere, including those in Northern Ireland, are fraught with difficulty. The situations are not exactly the same and have not reached the point at which negotiations really started to bear fruit in Northern Ireland. A lot of painstaking work still has to be done on this, but it would be a good start, after President Obama’s speech and his statement on the 1967 borders, for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to make it clear that they are happy to return to direct negotiations with each other.
Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): I warmly welcome the Foreign Secretary’s wise words to the organisers of the proposed flotilla. At a time when the flow of humanitarian aid has increased, yet terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas have also increased, the flotilla would be a terrible provocation to the state of Israel. A confrontation would certainly take place and talks would be postponed almost indefinitely. I urge my right hon. Friend to approach the organisers of the flotilla directly to make them stop.
Mr Hague: As I said earlier, I will make sure that our views are clear to all involved. Provocations are not what we need in the middle east at the moment; equally, disproportionate responses to provocations are not what we need, either. We ask all concerned to respect those considerations. Our views will be made clear to all concerned.
Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): We all want a negotiated settlement to the middle east conflict, but given that Hamas continues to attack Israel and to manipulate and undermine any direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, what more can we do with our international partners to ensure that Hamas accepts the Quartet principles and comes to the negotiating table?
Mr Hague: We stand firm with the Quartet. I made it clear in my earlier remarks what we expect of the Palestinian Authority. We look to the newly formed Palestinian Authority, when it emerges, to live up to the principles that I stated in answer to earlier questions. In the mean time, by failing to accept or even move towards the Quartet principles, Hamas remains a proscribed organisation that damages prospects of peace in the middle east rather than advancing them.
Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Monday, the case of Raed Salah was brought up in the House. Yesterday, I brought it up as a point of order and, indeed, there have been questions about it in the House today. Whatever the rights and wrongs, the man was said by the media to have been excluded, and we find today that he had been excluded, but none the less came into the country—apparently almost strolling through. Yesterday, I asked for a statement from the Home Secretary to allow hon. Members to question her about what was happening in the case. We now find through a press release on the Home Office website that, although the Home Secretary does not normally comment on individual cases, she has done so in this case. She confirms that Raed Salah was excluded but that he managed to enter the UK. He has now been detained, and the UK Border Agency is making arrangements to remove him. She announced through the press release that a full investigation is taking place into how he was able to enter.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Raed Salah entered this country four days ago without any problem. He has been here for four days and he spoke at a public meeting in Conway hall on Monday evening, which was apparently attended by immigration officers who did not recognise him even though he spoke from the platform. I also understand that he met Members yesterday and briefed them on the situation. This man is an Israeli citizen, who has no restrictions on his life or activities in Israel. Indeed, he addressed a public meeting at Tel Aviv university only last week. Following complaints in the Daily Mail, the Home Office seems latterly to have decided that there was a travel ban on him, even though it did not confirm that on Monday or on any other occasion, but announced it on a website a couple of hours ago, following media inquiries. Is that a satisfactory way for the Home Secretary to behave? She seems more interested in responding to the Daily Mail than to the House, and incapable of coming here to make a statement or, indeed, answering telephone calls from Members this morning who were trying to ascertain Mr Salah’s exact status. He was due here this evening to address a meeting upstairs in one of the Committee Rooms to promote dialogue and peace to bring about a resolution of the middle east conflict. Surely the House deserves a statement on the matter at the very least.
Mr Speaker: I shall take a further point of order on the subject and then respond to them all.
David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. If the Home Secretary is to come here to make a statement, could we find out whether the ability of the racist and homophobic individual whom we are discussing to enter the UK was in any way aided by the fact that he was apparently getting a warm welcome from some Labour Members?
Mr Speaker: I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not take it amiss if I say that that last series of observations represented not a point of order, but a point of frustration, propaganda or an expression of views. Anyway, he has said his piece, and we are grateful to him.
Let me try to respond to the two points of order that were raised from the Opposition side. The Home Secretary informed me late last night that Sheikh Raed Salah has been arrested with a view to deportation on the ground that his presence is not conducive to the public good. Accordingly, I instructed the Serjeant at Arms that he should not be admitted to the parliamentary estate. I know that Members will not expect me to discuss issues of security and access any further on the Floor of the House—I will not do that.
However, in response to the hon. Members for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) and for Islington North let me say that if the Home Secretary wishes to make an oral statement to the House, she is perfectly at liberty to do so. That is a choice for her, and she will have heard the points that have been made.
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Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that a Palestinian state with Hamas in part control is a major defence threat, not just to Israel but to the wider region? Does he also agree that there should be no recognition of a Palestinian state until Hamas recognises Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and recognises existing treaties?
Mr Speaker: Order. I am sure the Minister will answer with reference to the responsibilities of the Ministry of Defence.
6. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): Whether the Government plan to make additional resources available to the Director of Public Prosecutions to enable him to discharge the new responsibilities contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill to consider arrest warrants in war crimes cases. 
The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service currently anticipates that any additional responsibilities will be absorbed within current resources.
Ann Clwyd: The Solicitor-General will have read the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on this issue, which finds that the Government have not made their case and that they should think again. I find it particularly ironic that we are prepared to change the law to protect one Israeli opposition leader when another opposition leader, the Palestinian Sheikh Salah, comes here and is put straight in jail. Where is the justice in that?
The Solicitor-General: I appreciate the right hon. Lady’s interest in this aspect of public policy, and I also appreciate that she has firm opinions on the matter. She is fully entitled to those opinions. In short, the law was changed not in order to solve the problems of one individual but to deal with a public policy problem. She knows that really.
Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): On 11 January, in this House, a Justice Minister assured me that allegations under universal jurisdiction offences would be accorded the highest priority. Does the Solicitor-General accept the need for an out-of-hours response so that we can be confident that those suspected of such serious crimes will not evade arrest?
The Solicitor-General: The criminal justice system, as the hon. Gentleman knows, never rests. If someone is arrested or brought into custody, he will have available to him, or should have, not only the benefit of the attention of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service but also of his own defence lawyers.