Photo Credit: Tweeter
Bronwyn Bishop (L) quizzing the Palestinian Education Minister (R).

A minister in the Palestinian Authority says an Australian-led delegation that included Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop, Labor MP Tim Watts and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson came to Ramallah last Sunday bearing “false information” about the PA, and its members were “not well-educated,” several Australian media outlets reported this week. The delegation also included British MPs, apparently as “uneducated” as the rest of them.

Wilson tweeted that the group “quizzed” Palestinian Education Minister Dr. Sabri Saidam about a range of topics. “A curious meeting with the Palestinian Education Minister this morning, after meeting with their Prime Minister …” Wilson twitted, adding a picture of “Bronwyn Bishop quizzing the Palestinian Education Minister in a delegation led by Pyne.”


Saidam for his part said the meeting was “very explosive and very challenging” and said the group had asked “rude and blunt” questions. You go, Aussies…

Dr Saidam said the group repeatedly asked questions about Palestinians naming schools and venues after people who had killed Israeli civilians, to which he responded that “one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist.”

The honors to these “one man’s heroes” include, most recently, terrorist Muhannad Halabi who stabbed and murdered 2 Israelis, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennett, and injured Bennett’s wife, Adele, and their 2-year-old son in the Old City of Jerusalem on Oct. 3, 2015. That hero has a street named after him in his home town of Surda-Abu Qash. And Dr Saidam’s own ministry of education has dozens of schools named after terrorists. Three schools are named after Dalal Mughrabi, ‎who led a bus hijacking in 1978 in which 37 civilians were killed, 12 of them children. ‎Three schools are named after Abu Jihad, who planned the 1978 bus hijacking ‎that killed 37. ‎Another three schools are named after Salah Khalaf, who planned the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics (Sept. 5, 1972), and the murder of two Americans in Sudan (March 1, 1973). So much heroism, so few schools to name.

Focusing on Pyne’s behavior at the meeting, Saidam quipped, “I thought the Minister of Innovation would come with innovative ideas, but instead he came with a list of complaints.”

Pyne’s office issued an official statement, saying, “Members of the delegation are responsible for their own comments and behavior. The Minister personally engaged in constructive discussions centered around understanding Palestinian attitudes to the peace project.”

Dr Saidam said he gave the group a “textbook on education” on Palestine and encouraged members to pose their same questions to the Israeli Government.

Wasn’t going to happen. The fact is, Pyne and the rest of the Australian and British delegation were visiting mainly to garner business opportunities in Tel Aviv, and the Ramallah visit was mostly out of politeness—according to reports. This is Minister Pyne’s seventh trip to Israel, and he used it to launch a new initiative called “landing pad’ to help Australian startups get a foot in the door of the Israeli tech industry. Just that last line should warm any Zionist’s heart, never mind the Ramallah brouhaha.

“I very diplomatically asked the Prime Minister and the Higher Education Minister questions which I thought would be useful for understanding the Palestinian attitudes to the peace process,” Mr Pyne told the Australian ABC, adding, “I didn’t quiz anyone.” But he was willing to admit that “other members of the dialogue were slightly more robust and could be accused of quizzing them.

Minister Pyne received a warm welcome at a lunch he hosted for business and tech executives at the Hilton in Tel Aviv (probably no shrimp on the barbie, though). And Pyne and Attorney-General George Brandis had a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that also went very well. “We had a 45-minute chat which was scheduled for 30 minutes so he was obviously happy to be talking to us,” Pyne told ABC. He added that after Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, three months ago, “Mr. Netanyahu was one of the first people” he rang.


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