Dr Ghulam Ashraf's Blog


Foreign Minister Ivan Lewis Displays Pro-Israeli Bias Yet Again

Ivan Lewis, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office with responsibility for the Middle East, has criticized the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, for the interview with Khaled Mish’al, head of Hamas’ political bureau, published in last week’s edition of the New Statesman magazine. The magazine was guest-edited by Livingstone.

In a statement also reported in this week’s Jewish Chronicle, Ivan Lewis said:

Ken Livingstone rightly earned praise for his strong and responsible leadership in the aftermath of the 7/7 attacks on London.

“It is therefore particularly regrettable that he learned the wrong lessons from history by handing a propaganda coup to the leader of a terrorist organisation.

“Hamas has not only breached international law by firing rockets at civilian populations in Israel but continues to violate the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza.”

We wonder if Mr Lewis’ objections to the visit of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, and Avigdor Liebermen, the racist Israeli Foreign Minister, were similarly outspoken, given the reports of Israeli war crimes in Gaza as documented by Amnesty International Breaking the Silence, and, more recently, by the UN fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict? Strangely, we at ENGAGE can find no mention of any such criticism on the FCO website from Mr Ivan Lewis.

Mr Lewis’s actions are unsurprising given his presence and speech at a shameful pro-Israel rally in Manchester at the height of the savage Israeli bombardment of Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. He said at the time:

There is tragedy and trauma on both sides. It is essential that we send a clear and responsible message from the great city of Manchester that this community stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”

Moreover, the Minister’s remarks about Hamas are particularly interesting given the recommendations offered by the Foreign Affairs select committee in its report on ‘Global Security: Israel and the Occupied Territories’, The committee stated:

We are concerned that the Quartet is continuing to fail to provide Hamas with greater incentives to change its position. We therefore reiterate our recommendation from 2007, that “the Government should urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas as a way of encouraging it to meet the three Quartet principles.”

“We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should set out the specific indicators, if any, that would trigger a shift of British Government policy towards engagement with Hamas. We further recommend that the Government should set out the relevant differences between the cases of Hezbollah and Hamas that lead it to conclude that engagement with moderate elements within Hamas is not currently worth attempting.

Might one conclude from Mr Lewis’ statement criticizing Ken Livingstone that the FCO is ignoring the advice of parliament and no closer to offering a sensible strategy on engaging with Hamas – the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people?

Update: You can call Mr Lewis at his constituency office, if you are resident in his constituency of Bury South, on 0161 773 5500. Or request to be put through to his office at the House of Commons via the switchboard: 020 7219 3000. Or send an email to Mr Lewis with your thoughts on his statement here. And you can write to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, with your comments on the Minister’s remarks at:

The Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH.

Source: www.iengage.org.uk


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