I share concerns about the demolition of homes and vital social infrastructure by Israeli Government authorities in the West Bank. The eviction of Palestinians from their homes causes unnecessary suffering and calls into question the Israeli Government’s commitment to a viable two-state solution. Demolitions and confiscations contravene international humanitarian law and undermine social stability and security.
I recognise that the issue of demolitions is linked to the heavy restrictions on building permits for Palestinians, which make it very difficult to build legally within Area C of the West Bank. I believe the current building permit system is unsustainable and incompatible with the idea of a viable Palestinian state.
I am also concerned by the impact of military firing zones in the West Bank. I am aware of the recent decision by Israel’s supreme court to approve evictions in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank to make way for military firing and training zones. According to the UN, some 1,200 people, including 580 children, are now at imminent risk of forced eviction and displacement. I understand that officials from UN agencies and NGOs, as well as diplomats representing 24 countries, including the UK, visited Masafer Yatta recently.
I am strongly opposed to the annexation of Palestinian lands. The land seizures that have already taken place and the building of settlements on them are not only wrong but illegal. I, therefore, share your deep concern about the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes (if you were interested in my full thoughts on this please read my article here).
With our permanent seat on the UN Security Council and our historical role in Israeli-Palestinian affairs, I believe the UK has a moral duty to be proactive on these important issues.
More broadly, I was appalled by the horrifying violence and heart-breaking loss of life we saw across Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel in May 2021. There can be no military solution to this conflict, and I supported calls for an immediate ceasefire. I was strongly opposed to Israeli airstrikes that caused more than two hundred civilian casualties, including dozens of children. As a result, I wrote to the Prime Minister outlining my concern at the serious escalation of violence (see here). There could be no justification for actions that caused such high numbers of civilian casualties. I strongly supported the delivery of aid into the inhumanly blockaded Gaza within Parliament as a result of these callous actions (see here).
I believe there must be a renewed focus on negotiating a two-state solution that ensures a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. This must include an end to forced evictions of Palestinians, respect for sacred sites and adherence to international law on settlements. For the UK Government’s part, I believe this should include an acceptance of the need to recognise Palestine as a state, as nearly 140 other countries have now done so. This is something I have raised in Parliament (see here).
Rest assured; I will continue with likeminded MPs to press the Government on this important issue.