On 5th April 2017, Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty’s Government “how they are intending to respond to the chemical attack seemingly carried out by the Syrian Government on civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.” The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question about future international efforts to rebuild Syria after peace is secured in the area.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough My Lords, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday, we on these Benches mourn with the people of Idlib and we pray for justice and an end to violence. However, if and when peace is finally secured in the region, the scale of suffering and damage experienced by the people of Syria over the past six years will demand enormous and costly international effort if Syria is to be rebuilt. Will Her Majesty’s Government commit not just to supporting the people of Syria in the short term but to supporting the decades-long process of restoration that will inevitably be needed once the present crisis is over? Continue reading
On 21st July 2016 Lord Warner led a debate to highlight “the conditions in which Palestinian children are living and the impact on their health and wellbeing.” The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, spoke in the debate, drawing on his experiences of visiting Gaza and the West bank. Baroness Mobarik responded for the Government to a number of points made by the Bishop. her remarks can be found below.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: I, too, express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Warner, for securing this important debate. I speak as patron of the charities Embrace the Middle East and Friends of the Holy Land. I regularly lead pilgrimages to Israel and Palestine and for these past two years I have participated annually as a Church of England bishop in the Vatican Holy Land Coordination visiting Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
On 17th March 2016 Lord Hylton led a question for short debate, to ask Her Majesty’s Government “to what extent they will implement the recommendations of the House of Commons International Development Committee in their report of July 2014, The UK’s Development Work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for securing this debate. As someone who wants to see the flourishing of both Israel and Palestine, I welcome this report, although I am saddened by the situation that has developed since its publication. In their response to the report, the Government affirm their support of a two-state solution. If that is to remain a possibility, we surely need to do all we can to persuade Israel to end the demolition of Palestinian homes and the confiscation of Palestinian land throughout the West Bank, including east Jerusalem. Continue reading
On 2nd March 2016 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received an answer to a written question on Daesh in Gaza and the West Bank:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the presence of Daesh in Gaza and the West Bank. [HL6280]
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Government’s assessment is that there are groups and individuals in the West Bank and (primarily) in Gaza who sympathise with or self-identify as Daesh but are not formally affiliated with them. We remain concerned about a possible Daesh presence and continue to monitor the situation closely.
On 23rd February 2016 Lord Grade of Yarmouth led a short debate in the House of Lords to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to increase understanding of the Middle East.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Empey, drew attention to our consistent lack of understanding of the Middle East. In the brief time available to me, I should like to highlight one area of that lack of understanding—the religious dimension. What concerns me is the lack of religious literacy in our society even among opinion formers and decision-makers. By religious literacy I mean, as his grace the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury put it recently, not just propositional knowledge but emotional intelligence that enables us to understand the place of faith in other people’s lives. Only with that sort of knowledge will we understand the ideological drivers to discord and violence that poison life in the Middle East, and not just between Israelis and Palestinians. How many understand the disenfranchisement and disenchantment felt in Sunni heartlands, for example? Continue reading
On 21st September 2015 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received answers to two written questions on the impact of the separation barrier on prospects for an Israel/Palestine two-state solution:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the viability of a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine following the decision to resume construction of the separation barrier in Beir Ona, near the Cremisan Valley. Continue reading
On 16th September 2015 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke during a debate on the humanitarian impact of developments in the Middle East and North Africa. The Bishop welcomed much of the Government’s strategy and spoke of the need to renew our Christian-based values of the right of every person to be treated generously when in need, and as a unique and precious individual.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I shall make a couple of comments and invite the House to think a little about the humanitarian basis of this debate.
As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has just said, and the Minister said in her introduction, the scale is unprecedented in our times. The challenge, therefore, to be nimble is very great. I applaud the Government for the amount of investment that has been made in refugees and migrants. I also applaud the Government’s scheme to target the most vulnerable, including victims of sexual violence and torture, the elderly and the disabled. However, I agree with Lord Ashdown that because of the unprecedented scale we need to be generous in our approach and spirit. Continue reading