West Bank

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Voluntary Sector) 12:00 am, 22nd November 2016

What recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the announcement by the Prime Minister of Israel of a new settlement at Shiloh in the west bank in October 2016.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

On 5 October, I issued a press statement condemning the announcement of the proposed settlement in Shiloh. In September, I met Defence Minister Lieberman and raised our concerns about settlements, and made it clear that unless they form part of a land swap anyone living there must live with the knowledge that they will one day have to move. That was accepted by Defence Minister Lieberman, who is living in one of the settlements himself.

Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Voluntary Sector)

Does the Minister not therefore agree with me that a pillar of liberal democracy and the peace it brings is the rule of law, and that by reactively legalising illegal settlements on Palestinian land the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu continue to undermine democracy and progress to a lasting peace in the middle east?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The hon. Gentleman touches on a process in which these illegal settlements become legal, and we have raised concerns about this.

The settlement of Shiloh is significant because it allows an extension of the settlement area east of Ariel, which essentially, between Nablus and Ramallah, cuts off or breaks the west bank from the River Jordan all the way to Green Israel. That means effectively ruling out the possibility of a two-state solution.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Will Her Majesty’s Government use the opportunity of the centenary next year of the Balfour declaration to be bold and launch a peace initiative of their own to solve all these issues of settlements, security and the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

As I mentioned in the Westminster Hall debate on the Balfour declaration, we will be announcing plans as to how we will mark the year. It is also the anniversary of the mandate for Israel and Palestine and the withdrawal of Britain from the area. Also, we should not forget that it is almost 25 years since the Oslo accords, and therefore there is more work to be done. This is an international effort; it is also an effort that requires the Palestinians and the Israelis to work together, and we stand ready to provide support and make this happen.