Wednesday, 14 August 2013

British Cabinet Member “lied” over UN Palestinian death figures

Senior Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Sayeeda Warsi stands accused of misleading the House of Lords and the public following the incorrect citation of the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis since January 2012.
The question, posited by the contentious former Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge, asks, “what assessment [the government] have made of the number of non-violent protestors killed and injured by (1) live fire, (2) rubber bullets, and (3) other weapons, in Palestine since 2002.” The answer, given by Baroness Warsi via written question, states:
“We have made no assessment of the number of non-violent protestors killed or injured in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2002. According to the website of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 3,643 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israelis since 1 January 2012 in incidents directly related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the West Bank and Gaza strip.”
But the figures are astronomically incorrect, as the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states clearly in its report from June 2013, that the actual figure of Palestinians killed by Israelis in 2012 was just 262. 13 have been killed so far in 2013. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories states that 518 Palestinians were killed between January 2009 and June 2013, again dwarfed by the figure cited by Baroness Warsi.
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 18.10.36
The answer in Hansard
Baroness Warsi is now being called upon to apologise to the House of Lords, and to the wider public, over the gross exaggeration of figures which distort the truth and will, some say, lead to the miseducation and misrepresentation about the situation in the Middle East.
The figure of 3,643 appears to come from an anti-Israel site called “” which does not give any working citations or calculations for the figure. The site also seems to have not been updated since 2009, further confusing the facts.
Conservative Member of Parliament Bob Blackman MP told, “It is totally unacceptable that incorrect figures are announced without clarity on the source or basis behind which they have been obtained.”
“I will be seeking urgent clarification from Lady Warsi on the true position so that no attempt is made to mislead the public in the United Kingdom at a critical time when peace talks have resumed.”
Conservative sources that do not wish to be named have told that they expect a “full apology” from Baroness Warsi, and that they consider “lying to the House” to be a “serious and dreadful breach of her responsibilities”.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are looking into the matter.
The UN’s OCHA report (July 2013) lists the figures as follows:
Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 13.05.05Baroness Warsi was not available for comment.
Responding to the Written Parliamentary Question, Conservative Friends of Israel Director Stuart Polak said, “Baroness Warsi’s response is deplorable. This official answer from Her Majesty’s Government is at best sloppy and lazy behaviour by the FCO. At worst, it’s a one-sided attempt to slur Israel and Israelis.
“This must be corrected immediately and the FCO should carefully examine the sources that it relies upon for its information.”