Israel and the Palestinians: Support for Peace

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

What diplomatic steps he is taking to support peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent North

What diplomatic steps he is taking to support peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK is actively encouraging both parties back to dialogue. As I just mentioned, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met his opposite number on 10 February. I spoke to the Palestinian head of mission here in the UK on 2 February. The UK has been working with both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, alongside the United States and international key partners, to progress specific areas of co-operation, including water and gas provision, energy infrastructure and trade facilitation. We are also seeking to re-establish formal Israeli-Palestinian mechanisms, such as the joint economic committee and its relevant sub-committees.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

The International Criminal Court’s controversial determination on jurisdiction relating to Israel and the Palestinians not only undermines the middle east peace process but heightens the exposure of our armed forces to vexatious claims by setting a precedent that non-state actors can initiate proceedings. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of reforms of the ICC?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK respects the ICC’s independence, but we are working with other countries to bring about positive change within the court. The UK was instrumental in the establishment of the independent expert review, which reported in September, together with other state parties. Additionally, the UK is driving forward reforms to governance, prosecutorial excellence, and a more rigorous approach to budget control and value for money.

Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent North

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do hope Madam Deputy Speaker will be pleased that I have a jacket accompanying my jumper today.

It has been almost a year since my right hon. Friend expressed his hopes that the European Union would produce a balanced and independent report into the Palestinian Authority’s school curriculum, which contains shocking material inciting violence against Israel and Jews. What steps will the Government take if the long-awaited report, due for publication this month, falls short of the required standard?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this point and for the consistent approach that he has taken to this issue. We remain concerned about the allegations in Palestinian Authority textbooks and have lobbied European partners to bring forward their report in a timely manner. I have also discussed the issue directly with the Palestinian Authority’s representative in the UK, and we have regular discussions with the EU to encourage it to get this report into the public domain. In the interim, the UK will continue to raise our concerns bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority at the very highest levels.