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.
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
“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.