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December 17, 2015 1:59 pm

Palestinian Education Minister Fumes at Australian Delegation’s ‘Rude Questions’ About PA Practice of Honoring Terrorists

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Bronwyn Bishop, left, quizzes Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Saidam (right), as Christopher Pyne (center) listens during a meeting in Ramallah. Photo: Tim Wilson's Twitter feed.

Bronwyn Bishop, left, quizzes Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Saidam (right), as Christopher Pyne (center) listens during a meeting in Ramallah. Photo: Tim Wilson’s Twitter feed.

An Australian-British delegation visiting Ramallah on Sunday was harshly criticized by a Palestinian Authority official for asking “rude and blunt questions,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Thursday.

Prior to meeting with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Education Minister Sabri Saidam, the group — headed by Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne and including former speaker of the Australian Parliament Bronwyn Bishop, Australian Labor MP Tim Watts, Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson and British MPs – had been in Jerusalem for a two-day annual Australia-UK-Israel leadership dialogue.

Following the Ramallah meeting, Saidam blasted the visiting dignitaries for repeatedly asking questions about Palestinians naming schools and other institutions after people who had killed Israeli civilians.

“I said that one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist,” the PA minister told ABC. “The delegation had false information and twisted facts. So it was clear the delegation was not well educated. Obviously the delegation was under impressions, wrong impressions accumulated after the visit to Israel,” he said. “Coming blindfolded to realities, bypassing the pain of Palestinians in terms of daily happenings is not going to solve the conflict.”

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Wilson acknowledged to ABC that members of the group had, indeed, “quizzed” the PA ministers on “a range of topics.”

Pyne worded it slightly differently. “I didn’t quiz anyone,” he told ABC. “I very diplomatically asked the prime minister and education minister questions which I thought would be useful for understanding the Palestinian attitudes to the peace process.”

However, Pyne added, “Other members of the dialogue were slightly more robust.”

According to ABC, Pyne “appeared to blame the British delegates for the controversy, but the Palestinians are adamant it was the Australians.”

Saidam took a jab at Pyne, telling ABC, “There ha[ve] been a lot of complaints on the Palestinian side that the government of Australia was not that sympathetic [to] the Palestinians. I thought the minister of innovation would come with innovative ideas, but instead he came with a list of complaints.”

Still, he told ABC that “despite the atmosphere, he welcomed the visit because he thought it was important to ‘clarify facts.'”

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