Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel urge government to fund more peaceful coexistence projects

Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel urge government to fund more peaceful coexistence projects

MPs Sir Eric Pickles and Ian Austin lead calls for increased funding

Patrick Maguire is a reporter at the Jewish News.

Eric Pickles
Eric Pickles

Leading Conservative and Labour politicians have welcomed the Government’s pledge to fund more cross-communal projects that promote peaceful coexistence in Israel.

International Development Minister Sir Desmond Swayne MP met with Conservative Friends of Israel Chairman Sir Eric Pickles MP and Labour Friends of Israel’s Ian Austin MP to discuss the prospective funding shake-up today.

A mere 0.2 per cent of DfID’s £72 million annual spend in the Palestinian territories is directed to projects that bring Israelis and Palestinian communities together.

The parliamentarians also discussed the the Palestinian Authority’s alleged payment of salaries to convicted terrorists.

The government has insisted “safeguards are in place” to ensure UK aid to pay Palestinian civil servants is not misused amid claims that funds could be helping pave the way for the controversial funding.

Growing discontent over the alleged misuse of aid payments led the DfID to announce a review into its aid to the Palestinian Territories earlier this month.

Following the meeting, Sir Eric Pickles welcomed the Government’s move towards funding “peaceful coexistence projects that better supports a peace process”.

He said: “I look forward to working closely together with LFI and the Minister on this important issue which can go some way to securing a lasting two state solution.

“We also registered our concerns about the Palestinian Authority’s continued payment of salaries to Palestinian terrorists and will have further conversations on this in due course.”

Labour’s Ian Austin added: “I welcome the news that the government will consider increasing support to coexistence projects.

“However, LFI continues to be deeply concerned and disappointed at the government’s seeming unwillingness to tackle the PA on the payment of salaries to convicted terrorists, many of whom have committed the most terrible acts of violence which do nothing to further a two-state solution.

“We will continue to urge the government to publicly and unequivocally condemn this practice and we believe that aid to the PA should be suspended while these serious allegations are further investigated.”

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