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My Lords, I add my congratulations to those already offered to the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, on this timely and important debate. As many of your Lordships may know, I generally visit the Holy Land twice a year. Each January, I accompany the Vatican’s Holy Land co-ordination group to the area as the sole Anglican bishop. I have experienced much Israeli and Palestinian hospitality down the years. I am only too well aware of the State of Israel’s just concerns for its security and its safeguarding of the holy places of Jerusalem, but I have witnessed Bethlehem walled in on three sides, Palestinian agricultural land divided and appropriated by military structures, and the acquisition of swathes of the West Bank and east Jerusalem for the settlement of Israel’s citizens and the exclusion of Palestine’s.
I acknowledge the important emphasis in the published document on increased investment, exports, tourism and better governance and indeed the interest of the current US Administration in these matters. However, I regret that I do not find in the current US proposals a means to end the occupation. I do not detect a dialogue between the US Government and their Israeli allies on this matter. Nor is any consent sought from the legitimate representatives of the Palestinians.
The Peace to Prosperity initiative is meant to convey a sense of progress and, if implemented, rapid transformation. But without a proper relational settlement, this is a chimera. Israel must be free, and Palestine must be free. It is the position of the Churches that a two-state solution must be brokered. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government will consider expeditiously past resolutions of this and the other place on recognition of the Palestinian state. While Palestine is under occupation and that is an implicit factor in international affairs, this plan and any like it will be destined to fall.