Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

The case of the al-Kurd family

Delivered in Plenary - 20th November 2008

Mr President, before we start the clock ticking I would also like to make a point of order on this matter. I consider it absolutely irregular and unacceptable that Parliament’s Rules can be altered because Members from one side of the House choose not to turn up on a Thursday afternoon. That is their problem – not ours – and we are perfectly entitled to operate within Parliament’s Rules, which should be the same for every period within the working week during Strasbourg part-sessions.

I would be grateful if you could now restart the clock for my speech.

Mr President

In these urgency sessions we debate the gravest abuses of human rights, involving torture, rape and murder. The al-Kurd case in East Jerusalem does not fall anywhere near that category. It is a civil dispute between two private parties, and we really have no business interfering in such a dispute. The family was evicted by the police, who were enforcing an order of the Israeli Supreme Court. The family knew well in advance that eviction proceedings would be taken. The family had not paid their rent for 40 years, in spite of a court order ordering them to do so. This case has little implication on the wider issue of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Normally these debates are conducted in a bipartisan fashion. This debate, however, is simply another example of pandering to anti-Israeli hostility and sentiments, particularly on the other side of the House. Try as they might, they cannot disguise the fact that Israel is a democracy where the rule of law and independence of the judiciary remains paramount. I wish we could say the same about the Hamas-led authority in the Gaza Strip.

Colleagues, are there not many more pressing issues in the wider world that merit our attention in a human rights debate?
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