Israel and Palestine

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

What discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the recent escalation of violence in the region.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

What recent steps he has taken towards establishing a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The recent upsurge of violence in Gaza reminds all of us of the need to ensure that the middle east peace process gets moving, because that is the only thing that will make a difference. Both the Foreign Secretary and I have recently seen US envoy Jason Greenblatt, and we will continue all our efforts.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

The UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote on Thursday on the US-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas for the increasing violence and attacks on civilians and for the worsening situation in Gaza. Will the UK Government be supporting that resolution?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

We do not disclose the intention to vote in advance. What I would say is that it is very clear that we condemn Hamas’s action and conduct; we call for a permanent end to its terror and rocket attacks in relation to Israel; and we continue to proscribe the military wing of Hamas, to impose sanctions against individuals and to have no contact with Hamas.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith

Given the Government’s view, which I know the Minister shares, that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, why do the Government allow the import of goods from those settlements and investment by British companies?

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the Hezbollah terror tunnels from Lebanon into Israel that have been discovered?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The tunnels demonstrate the continual threat to the state of Israel from those who would mean it harm. Again, however, that emphasises the need—I am sure the whole House shares this view—to ensure that there is a resolution of the issues between Israel and its neighbours, so that there can be permanent peace and security for all in the region.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

Ministers keep telling us that they want to wait and see President Trump’s long-awaited middle east peace plan. In the meantime, we have seen an escalation of violence, death on the Gaza border, a worsening humanitarian crisis, continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the ending of US support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Is it not time that the UK said very clearly, “You cannot have a two-state solution if you only recognise one state”?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

We have said very clearly that we recognise a two-state solution. We are keen to ensure that when the envoy’s proposals come forward, they get a strong reception, and people can work on them to try to bring a resolution to this long-standing crisis. It is the only thing that will deal with the concerns that the hon. Gentleman raises.