Joan Ryan has urged the Prime Minister to “think again” after he rejected her call for an independent review into how Britain’s aid money is spent in Israel-Palestine. In February, LFI’s Chair wrote to David Cameron raising her concerns about the Palestinian Authority’s role in inciting the current wave of violence in Israel. She asked him to consider linking funding to an immediate cessation of incitement and proposed a wider investigation into whether British spending is best supporting the goal of a two-state solution.
Writing in this week’s Jewish Chronicle, Joan Ryan says of the Prime Minister’s response to her letter: “I am sorry that he has chosen not to take up my suggestions and hope he will think again. Some of our aid to the PA – focusing on poverty reduction and wealth-creation – must be maintained. But many of us are increasingly uneasy about taxpayers’ cash going to an institution which refuses to put its house in order. We need to start spreading our investments more widely.”
Following a recent LFI delegation to Israel and Palestine, Joan Ryan goes on to call for a big increase in UK spending on projects that bring Israelis and Palestinians together, while warning that current spending levels are “pitiable”. “The Department for International Development says that it no longer directly funds joint programmes. Instead, co-existence funding is funnelled through the new Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). But, as I have uncovered, less than 13 per cent of its £1.14m spend in Israel-Palestine is on projects which bring the two peoples together. This represents 0.2 per cent of the roughly £72m DfID spends in the Palestinian territories,” she writes in the JC. “I am pleased that David Cameron says he is open to increasing funding on co-existence projects. Now we need to think boldly. I would like our spending on them raised to 25 per cent of the CSSF budget by 2018 and 50 per cent by 2020.”
Since Joan Ryan’s original letter in February, there have been reports in the UK media alleging that the PA was passing on millions of pounds to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which was in turn giving it to convicted terrorists and their families.