British Government’s Current Position: The occupation of Palestinian land by Israel

Question by Baroness Sheehan on 11th May 2021 (HL99)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to protect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully demonstrate against the restrictions imposed on them by the government of Israel.

Answer from Lard Ahmad (Conservative) on 25th may 2021

The UK continues to urge the Israeli Government to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of peaceful, legal protestors.

The UK worked actively to urge the parties to work with mediators towards an immediate ceasefire. We also fully supported Egyptian, Qatari and UN efforts to that end, working closely with the US. The UK welcomes the announcement of a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza on 20 May, which is an important step to ending the cycle of violence and loss of civilian life. Hamas must end all attacks on Israel. It is also now important for Israel to facilitate rapid humanitarian access in and out of Gaza.

As the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have made clear, this cycle of violence must stop, and every effort must be made to avoid loss of life.

Question by Theresa Villiers (Conservative) on 19th February 2021 (UIN 154847)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government continues to accept the legal validity of the San Remo declaration of April 1920 on provision of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine.

Answer from james Cleverly (Conservative) on 1st March 2021

San Remo marked a chapter in the history of Britain’s Mandate over Palestine. The Foreign Secretary recorded a message for the San Remo Centenary Resolution celebration in April 2020, which reiterated that the occasion provided an opportunity to reflect on decades of cooperation between Britain and the Jewish people.

The United Kingdom considers that United Nations resolutions, including UNGA 181, UNSCRs 242 and 338, and UNSCR 2334 provide the relevant legal framework today.

We are proud of our bilateral relations with Israel, which continue to go from strength to strength in the twenty-first century. We also recognise – as the Prime Minister has said – that the Balfour Declaration, incorporated into the San Remo Declaration, contains unfinished business. The UK continues to believe that the two-state solution remains the only viable way to resolve the conflict and realise the rights of the Palestinian people.

Question by Julie Elliott (Labour) on 26th February 2021 (UIN 159300)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the recent report from Israeli human rights organisations, Breaking the Silence, Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Yesh Din, A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the ending of that practice; and what assessment his Department made on the effect of that practice on the community.

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

We are aware of the report by Yesh Din entitled, ‘A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank’. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement. While we recognise Israel’s legitimate need to deploy security measures, we encourage them to deploy these in a way which minimises tension and to use appropriate force.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 14th December 2020 (HL11450)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports about recent remarks by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom about (1) the Nakba, and (2) the displacement of Palestinians since 1948.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 24th December 2020

The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa met with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 15 December and reiterated the UK’s position on the Middle East Peace Process, including our commitment to a two state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital. The UK is clear that the status of Palestinian refugees must be agreed as part of wider peace negotiations. Until that time, the UK remains firmly committed to supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. We support a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1515. In practice, this means that any such agreement must be demographically compatible with two states for two peoples and a generous package of international compensation should be made available. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestinian refugees. The operational definition of a Palestinian refugee is any person whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict”.

Question from Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 14th December 2020 (HL11453)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Breaking the Silence A life exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, published in November.

Answer by Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 24th December 2020

We are concerned by the findings of the report by Yesh Din entitled, ‘A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank’. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement. While we recognise Israel’s legitimate need to deploy security measures, we encourage them to deploy these in a way which minimises tension and to use appropriate force.

Question from Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 10th November 2020 (HL10200)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 November (HL9334), whether such training exercises are permissible under international law. (See blow for original question)

Answer by Lord Ahmad on 24th November 2020

The UK remains of the view that Israel’s presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories amounts to an occupation, which is governed by relevant rules of international law. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement.

Question by Baroness Tonge (independent) on 19th October 2020 (HL9334)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about reports that the Israel Defence Forces have raided Palestinian villages at night for training purposes.

Answer from Lord Ahmad on 2nd November 2020

We have not raised these specific reports with the Israeli authorities. While we recognise Israel’s legitimate need to deploy security measures, we encourage them to deploy these in a way which minimises tension.

Question by Baroness Eaton (Conservative) on 8th October 2020 (HL8922)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ask the Palestinian Authority to drop their preconditions for peace talks with Israel.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 21st October 2020

The UK is committed to making progress towards a two-state solution. We firmly believe a just and lasting resolution that ends the occupation and delivers peace for both Israelis and Palestinians is long overdue. Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians Authority can determine the needs and aspirations of their people. However, we have encouraged them to resume cooperation and work towards further dialogue. Ultimately, there is no substitute for direct talks, which is the only way to a reach a two-state solution and a lasting peace. Meanwhile, the parties should do all they can to reverse the negative trends – including systematic settlement expansion and demolitions in the West Bank, violence and incitement, and the dire situation in Gaza.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 21st September 2020 (HL8342)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent steps they have taken to ensure that the Balfour Declaration is upheld, and in particular, the statement that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 6th October 2020

Israel is a thriving democracy with a long-standing commitment to equality for all. Defending Freedom of Religion or Belief, and championing human rights, is a policy priority for the UK. We encourage the Israeli Government to do all it can to uphold the values of equality for all enshrined in its laws.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 23rd June 2020 (HL6097)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the views of people who live in the Palestinian Territories on the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank by the government of Israel; and what steps they are taking to ensure that any such views are reflected in their policies towards the government of Israel’s proposals.

Answer from Lord Ahmad (Conservative) on 6th July 2020

Officials from our Consulate-General in Jerusalem engage regularly with a wide range of Palestinian individuals and communities across the entire West Bank, including in Area C. It has always been true that any peace settlement needs the support of both peoples. We urge the parties to find a means of restarting negotiations, and avoiding unilateral action. As the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa outlined at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 24 June, the UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 15th June 2020 (HL5730)

Palestinians: Health Services HL5730 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking, if any, to ensure that health services in Palestine have sufficient medical facilities and expertise in (1) the West Bank, and (2) Gaza, to enable those services to care for those with serious medical problems without the need to enter Israeli territory for treatment.

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

The UK has pledged £764 million to support the global humanitarian response to COVID-19. We have delivered additional vital support in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by providing funding to the World Health Organization and UNICEF to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity. Minister Cleverly also recently announced £20 million in new funding, which will help the Palestinian Authority support its health workers who have been on the frontline battling coronavirus and who help deliver life-saving medical services.

We also provided around £16 million in humanitarian assistance in 2019/20 to alleviate humanitarian and health needs in the OPTs. This included establishing a centralised surgical multi-disciplinary limb reconstruction unit, strengthening trauma care, enhancing the ambulance system, and training paramedics and frontline providers in Gaza. Our funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) also helps provide health services for around 3.5 million people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Question by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 8th April 2020

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Fairhead on 2 April (HL14807), what is their definition for the boundaries of (1) territories brought under Israeli administration since 1967, and (2) the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (HL15126)

Answer from Baroness Fairhead (Conservative) on 16th April 2019

It has been the position of the UK Government since 1967 that, in line with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza) are not lawfully part of the State of Israel.

The UK does not recognise Israeli settlements as part of Israel. 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: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Safeguarding Health in Conflict and other international human rights and medical groups, Impunity Remains: 2018 Attacks on Health Care in 23 Countries in Conflict, published in May, that found that the Occupied Palestinian Territories experienced the highest number of attacks of those 23 countries on healthcare facilities, workers and vehicles in 2018(HL15860)

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) Minister of State

We are concerned by the report on attacks on health workers and healthcare facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in particular in Gaza. We regularly raise our concerns about the situation with the Israeli Government, pressing them on the need for a long-term strategy to improve humanitarian conditions. We are clear that medical staff and services should have the protection that allows them to do their jobs in safety. We are providing funding to UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross to help improve the situation for healthcare in Gaza.

Q Asked by Lord Judd (Labour) Asked on: 08 May 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Occupied Territories: USA HL7620

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of the United States on the decision no longer to refer to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” in the United States State Department’s report, Israel and the Golan Heights 2017 Human Rights Report, published on 20 April, for the first time since the State Department began to issue Human Rights Reports in 1999; what is their assessment of the implications of this change for international law and United States policy; and whether they will re-affirm their own position on those territories and on Gaza.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) Answered on: 22 May 2018

While we have not raised this specific issue with the US, the UK position remains clear. We consider that the level of control that Israel retains over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza amounts to occupation under international law, Hence Israel’s presence is governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a state party. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and we continue to call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 17 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. HL12379

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the actions of Israeli forces (1) entering Palestinian villages, refugee camps and towns during the night or early in the morning, and (2) responding to protests by using teargas and live ammunition.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 3 January 2019

We have repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about its conduct in its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We remain concerned about the manner in which the Israel Defence Forces police non-violent protests and the border areas, including use of live ammunition.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 29 October 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Palestinians. HL11106

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the banning of Palestinian flags in East Jerusalem.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 09 November 2018

While we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities, we recognise that freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest are fundamental human rights. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). We will continue to raise concerns with the Israeli Government on compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s occupation of the OPTs.

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