British Government’s Current Position: Prioritising peace and cooperation in the Middle East in the midst of COVID-19

Question by Paul Blomfield (Labour) on 29th September 2020 (UIN 96862)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to tackle Israel’s demolition of structures in the West Bank and resulting displacement of Palestinians during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer from James Cleverly (Conservative) on 7th October 2020

The UK is seriously concerned by the continued demolitions of Palestinian structures by Israeli authorities, particularly at this time. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, is harmful to the peace process and weakens the capacity of Palestinians to withstand the impact of COVID-19. Under IHL, an occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining public health and hygiene in the occupied territory to the fullest extent of the means available to it and with the cooperation of the local authorities. We call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical.

Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have repeatedly raised our concerns about demolitions with Israeli Ministers and senior officials, and urged them to cease the counter-productive policy of demolitions, and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C. The British Government also supports Palestinians facing demolition or eviction in Area C of the West Bank through our legal aid programme. This helps residents challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system.

Question by Paul blomfield (Labour) on 29 September 2020 (UIN 96863)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies in the context of the covid-19 pandemic of reports of Israel’s demolition of water, sanitation and hygiene structures used by Palestinians in the West Bank.

Answer from James Cleverly (Conservative) on 7th October 2020

The UK is seriously concerned by the continued demolitions of Palestinian structures by Israeli authorities, particularly at this time. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, is harmful to the peace process and weakens the capacity of Palestinians to withstand the impact of COVID-19. Under IHL, an occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining public health and hygiene in the occupied territory to the fullest extent of the means available to it and with the cooperation of the local authorities. We call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical.

Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have repeatedly raised our concerns about demolitions with Israeli Ministers and senior officials, and urged them to cease the counter-productive policy of demolitions, and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C. The British Government also supports Palestinians facing demolition or eviction in Area C of the West Bank through our legal aid programme. This helps residents challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system.

Question from Baroness Tonge (Independent) in 3rd September 2020 (HL7829)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take to protect Palestinian medical facilities in East Jerusalem from violent incursions by the Israel Defence Forces. (HL7829)

Answer by Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 16th Sepember 2020

The UK is concerned by any reports of incursions into, or demolitions of, Palestinian medical facilities by Israeli authorities. In all but the most exceptional circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Such actions also weaken the capacity of Palestinians to withstand the impact of COVID-19. Under IHL, an occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining public health and hygiene in the occupied territory to the fullest extent of the means available to it. We call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical.

Question: by Alex Cunningham (Labour) on 9th June 2020 (57197)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of changes in the level of (a) attacks by settlers and (b) demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer: James Cleverly (Conservative) on 17th May 2020

As we made clear at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 20 May, the UK is concerned by the continued demolition of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities, and repeated incidents of settler violence at this time. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and weakens the capacity of Palestinians to withstand the impact of COVID-19. We condemn any incidence of violence by settlers against Palestinians. We welcome the efforts of Israeli authorities to address settler violence, and urge them to thoroughly investigate every instance to bring those responsible to justice and end the culture of impunity. During this fragile period, we call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical. We have also stressed the importance of the Israel security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population.

Statements and Letters

Statement by Ambassador James Roscoe, acting UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on Middle East Peace Process. Click here to read more. 

Letter from Claudia Beamish MSP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Claudia Beamish MSP. Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

Letter from Lisa Nandy MP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

Question: by Alex Cunningham (Labour) on 9th June 2020 (57197)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of changes in the level of (a) attacks by settlers and (b) demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer: James Cleverly (Conservative) on 17th May 2020

As we made clear at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 20 May, the UK is concerned by the continued demolition of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities, and repeated incidents of settler violence at this time. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and weakens the capacity of Palestinians to withstand the impact of COVID-19. We condemn any incidence of violence by settlers against Palestinians. We welcome the efforts of Israeli authorities to address settler violence, and urge them to thoroughly investigate every instance to bring those responsible to justice and end the culture of impunity. During this fragile period, we call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical. We have also stressed the importance of the Israel security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population.

Statements and Letters

Statement by Ambassador James Roscoe, acting UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on Middle East Peace Process. Click here to read more. 

Letter from Claudia Beamish MSP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Claudia Beamish MSP. Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

Letter from Lisa Nandy MP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

Written Ministerial Statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Foreign Affairs Council – 20 January 2020 (28 Jan 2020)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wms/?id=2020-01-28.HCWS68.h&s=Palestine#gHCWS68.0
Christopher Pincher: …(NDCs). Middle East Peace Process and the wider region. Over lunch, Foreign Ministers discussed the Middle East Peace Process and restated their national positions on the recognition of *Palestine*. The United Kingdom underlined the importance of firmly rejecting illegal annexation but made clear that our position on recognition was unchanged and reiterated our commitment to a two-state…https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2020-01-29.9765.h&s=Palestine#g9765.q0

Tan Dhesi Labour, Slough

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the prospects for peace between Palestine and Israel.

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Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 3 February 2020, cW)

Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

We are concerned by the lack of progress in the Middle East Peace Process and note the UN Secretary-General’s assessment that the situation on the ground has deteriorated over the last three years. The ongoing violence underlines that a just and lasting resolution that ends the occupation and delivers peace for both Israelis and Palestinians is long overdue. We continue to believe the best way to achieve an end to this conflict is through substantive peace talks between the parties, but international action has a role in facilitating progress. We have a regular dialogue with both the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel at all levels. We are encouraging both sides to maintain calm and avoid taking unilateral actions that may make peace more difficult to achieve.

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