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Israel: Children in Detention

Volume 564: debated on Tuesday 18 June 2013

5. Whether he has had discussions with the Government of Israel on their response to the recommendations of the report “Children in Military Custody”, published by a delegation of British lawyers in 2012. (160002)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has just said, I visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories last week, when I had the opportunity to raise the issue of the report with the relatively recently appointed Israeli Minister of Justice. We will continue to press on the matter of children in detention.

It is a year since the publication of the “Children in Military Custody” report and the lack of reform is lamentable. Will the Minister press the Israeli Government on specific deadlines on specific issues, such as the implementation of the use of audio-visual recordings in all interrogations? Specific deadlines on specific issues could help progress.

In addition to my efforts last week, I will this week see the Israeli Attorney-General, who is paying a visit to the UK. I absolutely intend to raise that issue with him. The Government support the report. Provisions in it will benefit not only children, but how Israel is seen. Currently, some 238 children are within the Israeli judicial system, including 137 in Israel. The issues are pressing, and I will continue to raise them very straightforwardly with the Attorney-General when he is here.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the tragedy is that, unlike juvenile criminal trends in most societies, many crimes carried out by minors in the disputed territories are of a violent and ideological nature? What is his latest assessment of the Palestinian Authority’s sanction and glorification of violence?

The tragedy is that two groups of people have been separated for far too long, and the efforts that need to be made to bring them together have foundered constantly. The problem of children taking to the streets and throwing stones and the Israeli defence forces having to respond will not be settled until we have the overall settlement on which we are working so hard to support Secretary Kerry, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary mentioned a moment ago.