Foreign Affairs - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 6:37 pm ar 5 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Ceidwadwyr 6:37, 5 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Desai. I shall focus on two important allies, Ukraine and Israel, which are battling forces intent on undermining the democracy and protections on which our way of life depends. I commend and congratulate my noble friends Lord Ahmad and Lord Cameron—who I am delighted to see return to government—on the Front Bench, on our country’s strong support for both our allies.

The noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, encapsulated ideally all the reasons that I would mention for why we must not waiver in our support for Ukraine, and even why we should step up the further support that is essential so that Russia does not prevail. Ukraine is fighting on the front line for western European democracy, especially after the appalling death of Alexei Navalny, to whom I pay the highest tribute. We must stand firm.

Today marks 150 days that the Palestinians have been holding the Israeli hostages, with no Red Cross access despite promises of such during the last humanitarian pause and no willingness even to confirm who is alive. This is the other major threat to our national security and our democratic norms, as is demonstrated by the reaction to the murderous, barbarous Hamas attacks on Israel. Islamist fanatics and threats have been excused or appeased. The western pull-out from Afghanistan may have emboldened the Taliban ideologues seeking to establish a caliphate. Iran and its satellites in Syria, Yemen and Gaza are determined to spread their hate across the western world and undermine our security. Turning a blind eye to Iran’s preaching of medieval jihad as it has slowly taken over these countries—now extending to Gaza, as we see—is a threat to us all.

UNRWA has held a mandate for education and social care for the Palestinian people. However, it has actually engaged in an extreme form of child abuse. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, in all that she has said to call out the problems created by UNRWA. In UNRWA schools, there is glorification of jihad. The teaching materials encourage violence and martyrdom, and the content promotes anti-Semitism and the demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, making the Jewish state full of subhumans. It is part of the problem, and UNRWA should be replaced. Glorifying martyrdom as an essential part of the Islamic faith should not be accepted or tolerated. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s stated aims are the eradication of the Jewish state.

Recognition of a two-state solution while such indoctrination persists and Palestinian leaders refuse to accept Israel’s very existence would be a reward for murder, terror, rape and hostage-taking and an indication, I fear, of western weakness in the face of threats that require strong, determined support for those who believe in our own values. Support for Hamas and the Palestinian terrorists, calls for a ceasefire and chants of “from the river to the sea” amount to support for terrorism and ideological hatred. They amount to anti- Semitism.

In particular, I am exercised by the sexual violence that is being excused. There is no excuse for rape, wanton assault and torture of Israeli women and children. Rape is not resistance. Hamas filmed and glorified its pogrom and violation of Jewish women, yet western supporters here and in other countries ignore this. Sisters Uncut claimed that reports of Hamas sex attacks amounted to Islamophobia and racist weaponisation of sexual violence. Women’s groups that rail against such attacks on all other women have stayed silent. It seems it is #MeToo unless you are a Jew.

Western leaders fail to recognise, at our peril, what a major challenge the current wars in Ukraine and Israel and Gaza pose to the enlightened values we claim to hold dear. I urge my noble friends to stand firm on the right side of history against the forces of anti-Semitism and anti-democracy.