A Palestinian minister accused an Australian-led delegation visiting Ramallah on Sunday of being "not well educated" and having "false information," after a meeting intended to discuss political challenges in the region, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
According to the ABC report, the political delegation was headed by Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Innovation Christopher Pyne, and also included British members of Parliament. Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said after the meeting that the delegation members "quizzed" Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Education Minister Sabri Saidam on a number of topics.
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Saidam later told the ABC the meeting, which was held in Hamdallah's office in Ramallah, was “very explosive and very challenging.” He said the group had asked “rude and blunt” questions and Pyne had raised “a list of complaints.”
It seems the delegation, which had been visiting Israel as part of the Australia-Israel-United Kingdom Leadership Dialogue, posed questions to the Palestinians about the naming of schools and other sites after terrorists as well as on issues of incitement to violence; and seemed to have taken a too pro-Israeli line for the hosts.
"The delegation had false information and twisted facts," Saidam told the ABC. “It was clear the delegation was not well educated,” he continued.
ABC reported that the delegation also visited Israel prior to the meeting and Saidam accused them of accumulating wrong impressions leading up to the meeting.
While Pyne seemed to blame the British representatives for Saidam's displeasure, the Palestinians insisted it was the Australians they were angry with.
Pyne told ABC, “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.
“Other members of the dialogue were slightly more robust and could be accused of quizzing them,” he said.
Hamdallah "thanked Australia for its continued support to Palestine main development sectors as education, industry and water," said an official Palestinian press release on the meeting.