PMW findings used to confront PA officials
PMW's information vital
for British and Australian politicians challenging the PA
PA Prime Minister defended practice of honoring terrorists
PA Minister of Education was "surprised
by the group's 'explosive, blunt and rude' questions"
Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus
A delegation of Australian and British politicians visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority used Palestinian Media Watch's findings to challenge and question PA officials. After confronting the PA officials, Australian MP Glenn Sterle "strongly recommended a briefing from Palestinian Media Watch before any meetings with the PA," The Jerusalem Post reported.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah denied that any schools in the West Bank are named after terrorists, despite the fact that PMW has clearly documented this. Hamdallah even "defend[ed] the practice of 'honoring' terrorist-suicide bombers," Australian MP Glenn Sterle said. Hamdallah had further told the delegation to "check their information." [The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 15, 2015]
After the meeting with the Australian-British delegation, the PA Minister of Education Dr. Sabri Saidam said that he "was surprised by the group's 'explosive, blunt and rude' questions about Palestine's education system." "There was a lot of incitement I would say on behalf of the delegation meaning or implying that the Palestinians are the ones terrorizing Israel," Saidam said. He complained that Australian Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne had not discussed education with him but instead about "political difficulties." Minister Saidam stated that Minister Pyne "had a list of questions and they were misinformed." [SBS News, Dec. 16, 2015]
The following are the reports on the delegation's use of PMW documentation at the meeting with PA officials in the Jerusalem Post and SBS:
Headline: "Grapevine: Between Jerusalem and Berlin"
By Greer Fay Cashman
"PRIOR TO the dinner on Sunday, following a presentation by Itamar Marcus from Palestinian Media Watch, Dialogue participants went to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the PA education minister, who were asked about the naming of a girls high school after a terrorist, Dalal Mughrabi; sporting events named after terrorists; branding anyone who supported peace initiatives through sport as traitors; and the preaching of hatred through the education system. According to the Australian Labor Party's Glenn Sterle, who is the senator for Western Australia in the Parliament of Australia, Australian and UK delegates were at all times respectful and courteous to the prime minister when putting their questions.
The prime minister gave a brief overview of the situation between Israel and the PA. He shared the concerns the PA has with Hamas and the reconstruction effort of the PA in Gaza. He told the group that the Palestinians are willing to commence peace talks toward a two-state solution with Israel, but not until there is a freeze on the expansion of settlements.
The term "occupation" was used numerous times, said Sterle.
When questions from the delegation were put to the prime minister, the responses were varied, Sterle added.
"Firstly, there was complete denial that any schools in the West Bank were named after terrorists. He challenged us to check our information. He reiterated a number of times that our information was incorrect.
But when he was returned to the question by other members of the delegation, he then went into defending the practice of 'honoring' terrorist-suicide bombers."
Sterle noted that Hamdallah was at pains to share with the group the actions of Israeli soldiers who have killed numerous Palestinian youths who have done nothing more than throwing stones at the soldiers. He used the expression "they are not here having a picnic" several times when talking about the soldiers' presence.
His reasoning, said Sterle, was that Israel honors its "terrorists" by naming streets, buildings and airports after them. Names such as Ben-Gurion, Sharon and Meir - people who, he said, killed Palestinians - were cited. He also mentioned Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Muslim worshipers at prayer in Hebron.
At one stage, said Sterle, Hamdallah got a little agitated as the group continued to bring him back to the topic of honoring terrorists through sporting events and the education system.
The same theme of questioning was put to the education minister, and the same answers came back to the group. Trimble opened the session with the process of inclusion between children from both sides of the Northern Ireland conflict. The minister appeared not to be interested in further conversation in this area, though he did say the assistance of the international community was needed to commence peace talks.
Sterle, for whom this was not the first Dialogue gathering, said that it is imperative to have the visit to Ramallah included in all Dialogue visits. "It is definitely worthwhile for delegates to meet and hear from the PA ," he said, and strongly recommended a briefing from Palestinian Media Watch before any meetings with the PA."
Headline: Pyne defends Palestinian talks approach
Picture caption: Bronwyn Bishop, Christopher Pyne speaks to
the Palestinian Education Minister (@timwilsoncomau) (Twitter)
Sub-headline: "Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has defended the approach a delegation took to discussions with Palestinian authorities in the West Bank"
"The Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has defended his approach in high-level discussions in the West Bank at the weekend.
Mr Pyne was part of a delegation of British and Australian politicians visiting Israel, before heading for talks with Palestinian authorities in Ramallah.
The Palestinian Education Minister Dr Sabri Saidam told SBS News he had expected the discussions to focus on education, but was surprised by the group's "explosive, blunt and rude" questions about Palestine's education system.
He said both Australian and British MPs asked the offensive questions.
"There was a lot of incitement I would say on behalf of the delegation meaning or implying that the Palestinians are the ones terrorising Israel when we have been subjected to the longest occupation, as I said, of modern times," he said.
Dr Saidam said Mr Pyne sidetracked from his Innovation portfolio to concentrate on political discussions.
"I had hoped that the Minister of Innovation would spend some time talking about Innovation, Industry and Science and I said you are now welcome, the Ministry of Service that runs schools and manages higher education entities, that we should be talking education. Instead, we were diverted to talk about political difficulties and talking about challenges and he had a list of questions and they were misinformed."
In response, Mr Pyne's office sent the following statement:
"Members of the delegation are responsible for their own comments and behaviour.
"The Minister personally engaged in constructive discussions centred around understanding Palestinian attitudes to the peace project."
Dr Saidam said he gave the group a textbook on education in Palestine and encouraged members to pose their same questions to the Israeli Government."