UK Dep’t for International Development removes video accusing Israel of stealing Palestinians’ water

A guest post by Oded Ben-Josef, on Aug. 23, commented on a video posted on the site of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) which highlighted a four-year plan to promote sustainable development and eliminate poverty in the Palestinian Authority, which featured a visit to the PA by UK Minister of State, Alan Duncan MP, to promote the project.

As Ben-Josef noted, Duncan’s commentary in the video went beyond mere anti-poverty advocacy, and was more akin to the most shrill and vitriolic propaganda by anti-Israel activists, and including the following:

“Israeli settlers can build what they want, pretty well, and they immediately get the infrastructure, so that takes the water deliberately from Palestinians here.” [emphasis mine]

“[..] So, the Israelis can build, and this is not their country, but Palestinians, whose country this is, cannot build.”

And, later in the video, Duncan said this about Israel’s security barrier:

“…Behind me is the wall. Well the wall is a land grab. It hasn’t just gone along the line of a proper Israeli boundary.”

Following reports about the DFID video, The Board of Deputies of British Jews criticized Duncan for his remarks.

Further, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy questioned whether the minister was suitable as a spokesman for the UK government, and reminded Duncan that the wall was built solely for security purposes to stop “Palestinian suicide attacks” on civilian buses and restaurants.  

The Israeli Embassy spokesman said:

“Claiming that the security barrier, which has prevented the deaths of thousands more Israelis, is not for security purposes, shows a disrespect for Israeli life, and we are therefore convinced that this could not be the official British government position.”

As Ben-Josef noted, the “YouTube video from the trip was posted on the DFID site and on YouTube, but was, without explanation, taken down and disabled”, shortly thereafter.

But, an Aug. 27th report by The Telegraph sheds some light on the decision, quoting a DFID Spokesperson saying:

“The video was aimed at highlighting DFID’s work to alleviate poverty in the OPTs [Occupied Palestinian Territories]…Unfortunately, some elements were misinterpreted and Mr Duncan has asked for it to be taken down.”

According to The Telegraph, the UK Foreign Office was reported to be unhappy with the “tone” of the language that Mr Duncan had used.

Of course, the UK Foreign Office didn’t suggest what would be the appropriate “tone” for callously criticizing Israeli security measures implemented to prevent suicide bombers from murdering innocent Israelis, and falsely accusing the Jewish state of  cruelly taking water away from thirsty Palestinians.

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