Middle East Peace Settlement — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:35 pm on 14th January 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 8:35 pm, 14th January 2014

My Lords, I stand corrected.

We understand the concerns of people who do not wish to purchase goods exported from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was in order to enable consumers to make a more fully informed decision concerning the products they buy that in December 2009 the UK introduced voluntary guidelines to enable produce from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories to be specifically labelled as such. The EU-wide guidelines on the labelling of settlement produce would be an important step to ensure correct and coherent implementation of EU consumer protection and labelling legislation, which is in fulfilment of our previous commitments and is fully consistent with long-standing EU policy in relation to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington of Fulham, spoke about the EU-US role in talks. The EU is working closely to support US efforts. There are serious negotiations under way and we urge both parties to make compromises for peace.

The noble Lord, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill, spoke about Palestinian incitement in the media. We have regularly urged both parties to act against incitement and strongly believe that Abbas is a partner for peace. Now is the time to resolve conflict and move forward.

I turn briefly to the worsening conflict in Syria. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said, a negotiated political transition in Syria is the only way forward. The Geneva II peace process will start on 22 January and will bring together, for the first time since the conflict began, the regime and opposition in direct negotiations. EU political support for this diplomatic effort to date has been important. We will do all we can to maximise the chance of Geneva II succeeding.

We continue to play a role in the humanitarian effort. The UK has already committed £500 million to Syria. At tomorrow’s UN pledging conference in Kuwait, we will announce a further major funding commitment. We look to the EU and others to do the same. I will write to the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, in relation to Syrian refugees—I have those details here but I think that I shall run out of time.

On the wider role that the EU plays, we have helped to secure the EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing. The EU has also played an active role on Egypt and on the issue of human rights activists. The noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, has visited Cairo on a number of occasions since July, most recently in October, and has met with a range of interlocutors in Egypt.

In conclusion, achieving a wider Middle East peace settlement is one of the big challenges of our time. Diplomatic progress in Iran, the Middle East peace process and Syria would bring major benefits for the UK and the world. I can assure noble Lords that the UK will continue to work closely with the EU and our international partners and spare no effort to promote peace in the Middle East.

Annotations

Fuad Al-Tawil
Posted on 15 Jan 2014 2:31 pm (Report this annotation)

I'm not sure if Baroness Warsi is aware that it is illegal under international law (Geneva Convention) for any state to benefit from an occupied territory. So it is not about giving people a choice, it is about upholding the law.