British Government’s Current Position: Israeli settlement building and demolitions

UK statement on Israel settlement construction – Published 28 October 2021

Question by Stephen Timms (Labour) on 16th March 2021 (UIN 169780)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UK’s diplomatic efforts to end demolitions and settlement expansion in the West Bank; and if he will make a statement.

Answer from James Cleverly (Conservative) on 22nd March 2021

The UK has a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation. We do not hold back from voicing or raising concern about Israel’s actions when warranted. We continue to believe that the best way to advance a two state solution is through dialogue, including by urging an end to settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian property in the West Bank. As a proud friend of Israel, and one which has stood up for Israel when it faces bias and unreasonable criticism, we will continue to urge Israel to not take steps such as these, which move us away from shared goals of peace and security.

Question by Baroness Tonge (independent) on 1st February 2021 (HL12870)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Health on 26 January requesting the intervention of international human rights organisations to stop the demolition of a health clinic in Zanouta.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 15th February 2021

The UK regularly raises demolitions with the Government of Israel. The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa raised his concerns about demolitions of Palestinian and humanitarian structures, including healthcare centres, with the Israeli Ambassador on 29 October 2020. UK officials from the British Consulate in Jerusalem have made regular visits to areas at risk of demolition and eviction to reiterate UK support for those communities. The UK also urged the Government of Israel to end demolitions of property in the West Bank at the UN Security council on 26 January 2021. The UK is clear that in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process.

Question by Patrick Grady (SNP) on 23rd February 2021 (UIN 157200)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterparts on the issue of illegal settlements in Palestine.

Answer from James Cleverly (Conservative) on 3rd March 2021

Both the Foreign Secretary and I made clear our opposition to settlement advancement in the sensitive location of Givat HaMatos on 21 January 2021. I also raised settlement construction in Givat HaMatos with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 18 January 2021 and urged the Government of Israel not to proceed. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv have also urged the Israeli Authorities to cease the construction process in a meeting alongside European counterparts on 19 January 2021. The UK’s position on settlements is clear: They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution.

Question by Baroness Tonge (independent) on 25th January 2021 (HL12563)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Israel has approved a project to build new sections of a wall to the north and east of Aizarya.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 8th February 2021

The UK Government continues to raise our concerns about Israeli restrictions on freedom of movement and access into and out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with the Israeli authorities. We continue to stress to the Israeli authorities the damage that their restrictions on movement, access and trade are doing to the living standards of ordinary Palestinians.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 18th January 2021 (HL12242)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the proposed settlement at Givat Hamatos.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 1st February 2021

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion within the West Bank. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa made clear our opposition to settlement advancement in the sensitive location of Givat HaMatos on 21 January. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised construction in Givat HaMatos with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 18 January and urged the Government of Israel not to proceed. The British Embassy Tel Aviv also urged the Israeli Authorities to cease the construction process in a meeting alongside European counterparts on 19 January. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. Settlement expansion is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. We call on Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately.

Question by Baroness Tonge on 19th October 2020 (HL9333)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 17 (29 August–8 September 2020), published on 8 September, and the finding that there has been a 60 per cent increase in the demolition of Palestinian buildings demolished by the government of Israel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 29th October 2020

We are aware of the findings of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 17 regarding demolitions of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities. The UK is seriously concerned by the continued demolitions of Palestinian property, 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.

Question by the Marquess of Lothian (Conservative) on 22nd Ocotber (HL9492)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have raised objections to the approval of new settlement homes in the West Bank with the government of Israel; what assessment they have made, if any, of the number of new settlement homes that have been advanced in the West Bank this year; and what is their assessment of the impact of the increase in new settlement building on prospects for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on November 5th 2020

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion within the West Bank. As the UK made clear on 16 October, in a joint statement alongside France, Germany, Italy and Spain, we are deeply concerned by the recent decision taken by the Israeli authorities to advance more than 4,900 settlement building units in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concern with the Government of Israel on 13 October, alongside European partners. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. Settlement expansion is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. We urge Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately. We are encouraging both sides to maintain calm and avoid taking actions which make peace more difficult to achieve.

Question by The Marquess of Lothian (Conservative) on 22nd October (HL9492)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have raised objections to the approval of new settlement homes in the West Bank with the government of Israel; what assessment they have made, if any, of the number of new settlement homes that have been advanced in the West Bank this year; and what is their assessment of the impact of the increase in new settlement building on prospects for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 5th November

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion within the West Bank. As the UK made clear on 16 October, in a joint statement alongside France, Germany, Italy and Spain, we are deeply concerned by the recent decision taken by the Israeli authorities to advance more than 4,900 settlement building units in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concern with the Government of Israel on 13 October, alongside European partners. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. Settlement expansion is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. We urge Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately. We are encouraging both sides to maintain calm and avoid taking actions which make peace more difficult to achieve.

Question by Baroness Tonge (independent) on 5th October 2020 (HL8782)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take to prevent (1) the demolition of property, and (2) the levelling of land, owned by Palestinians by the Israel Defence Force for the expansion of any illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 19th October 2020

The UK is concerned by the continued demolitions of Palestinian structures by Israeli authorities. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We have made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Our longstanding position on settlements is that they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. The UK funds a number of projects that support Palestinians communities in the West Bank, from the effects of settlement expansion in particular. Our legal aid programme also supports Bedouin communities and Palestinians facing demolition or home eviction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 6th october 2020 (HL8837)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the demolition of Palestinian property by the government of Israel, and (2) the impact of any such demolitions on people living in such property, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 20th october 2020

The UK is seriously concerned by the continued demolitions of Palestinian property 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.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 28th July 2020 (HL7479)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about reports of the construction of (1) a new settlement near Asira a-Shamaliya on land owned by Palestinians, and (2) earthworks by Israeli armed forces preventing Palestinians from reaching their farmland.

Answer from Baroness Sugg (Conservative) on 6th August 2020

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion and restrictions on freedom of movement within the West Bank, including to and from East Jerusalem. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten they physical viability of a two-state solution. We urge Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately. We continue to stress to the Israeli authorities the damage that their restrictions on movement, access and trade are doing to the living standards of ordinary Palestinians. We are encouraging both sides to maintain calm and avoid taking actions which make peace more difficult to achieve.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent) 10 June 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Israel: West Bank (HL16226)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Israeli Civil Administration’s powers to demolish, within 96 hours, any type of new building in Area C of the West Bank without any opportunity for appeal.

Answer: by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 24 June 2019

We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank. We call on them to cease the policy of demolitions and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.

Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about the reported increase of violence by settlers towards Palestinian property in Al-Tuwani and elsewhere, including the destruction of olive groves and writing offensive graffiti. (HL16124)

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 17 June 2019

We continue to condemn violence by settlers against Palestinians and stress the importance of the Israel security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised settler violence with the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 6 June. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from acts of violence.

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.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 07 May 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Israel: Palestinians (HL15581)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about the number of Palestinian properties being demolished, in particular those that have been demolished without warning or explanation.

Answer: by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 21 May 2019

We have repeatedly made representations to the Government of Israel to end the demolition of Palestinian properties. Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution, and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law.

Question: by Lisa Nandy (Labour, Wigan) on: 29 April 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Israel: West Bank (248669)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent representations she has made to her Israeli counterpart on the reported destruction of three water connections supplying water to the West bank in February 2019.

Answer: Mark Field (Conservative) on 02 May 2019

​While we have not made any representations on this specific matter, the UK has raised concerns over access to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the Israeli authorities, including stressing the urgent need for Israel to take immediate and practical measures to improve the current situation and ensure fair distribution of water in the West Bank and Gaza. We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. We call on them to cease the policy of demolitions and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.

Question by Mrs Anne Main (Conservative, St Albans), on: 19 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. 203855

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effects of Israel’s settlement expansion on the welfare of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.

Answer : Alistair Burt (Conservative) 08 January 2019

​I issued a statement on 27 December expressing our disappointment in the latest announcement by the Government of Israel to advance over 2,800 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

Question from Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians. HL12685

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to protect Palestinians in the West Bank whose land is being used by Israeli settlers to build new settlements under the protection of the Israeli military.

Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 21 January 2019

​The Government funds a number of projects to monitor and report on settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and to protect vulnerable Palestinian communities from the effects of settlement expansion. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa issued a statement on 27 December expressing our disappointment in the latest announcement by the Government of Israel to advance over 2,800 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

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