UK gov’t site removes minister’s Israel ‘land grab’ claim

Conservative minister Alan Duncan claims Israel deprives Palestinians of water in government video.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 28, 2011 03:39
2 minute read.
UK MP Alan Duncan

alan duncan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON – A British government minister has been forced to backtrack after referring to the West Bank security barrier as a “land grab” and claiming that Israel deprived the Palestinians of water.

Alan Duncan, minister for international development and Conservative MP, made the comments in a video posted on the Department for International Development (DfID) website last month. The video highlighted how Britain plans to tackle poverty in the Palestinian territories over the next four years.

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The video was removed last week by the government department after the Israeli Embassy and community officials expressed concern.

“The video was aimed at highlighting DfID’s work to alleviate poverty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as some of the key challenges facing the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, some elements were misinterpreted and Mr. Duncan has asked for it to be taken down,” a DfID spokesman said.

“The wall is a land grab. It hasn’t just gone along the lines of the proper Israeli boundary, it’s taken in open land which actually belongs to Palestine. So that is not a security wall, it’s a perimeter wall trying to annex land that does not belong to Israel,” Duncan said in the video, filmed during a recent visit to the region.

“Let me give you the real picture of what settlement activity amounts to. Israeli settlers can build what they want and then immediately get the infrastructure, so that takes the water deliberately away from Palestinians.

The Israelis can build and this is not their country, but the Palestinians, whose country this is, cannot build,” he said.

The Israeli Embassy said Duncan’s remarks showed disrespect for Israeli lives.

“The reality on the streets of Israel was one where Palestinian suicide attacks scattered the limbs of hundreds of innocent civilians across buses and restaurants.

Claiming the security barrier, which has prevented the deaths of thousands more Israelis, is not for security purposes shows a disrespect for Israeli life,” an embassy spokesman said.

“Mr. Duncan was presenting a one-sided account that was not just inaccurate but openly biased. It has no place on an official government website,” said Alan Aziz, chief executive of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

During his visit to the Palestinian territories, Duncan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pledging to tackle poverty.

Britain is set to provide up to £349 million to support the Palestinians over the next four years.


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