The ongoing situation in the Middle East, particularly in relation to Israel and Palestine, is something I follow closely. When circumstances allow, I hope to visit the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian politicians to discuss the issue and see the situation on the ground for myself.
I stand firmly behind the UK’s long longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process. The only way we can resolve the current impasse is by having a negotiated settlement which leads to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps. Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a fair and realistic settlement for refugees.
The UK Government consistently calls for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution and they have my support in doing so. There are faults on both sides and it is only by recognising this that a solution can be found.
Any initiative that gets both sides around the negotiating table can only be a good thing. The absence of such dialogue creates a vacuum that only fuels instability and leads to the drifting of the two sides further and further apart. That’s why I would encourage both sides to give the plan announced by the USA earlier this year genuine and fair consideration. Having reviewed the plan in detail, I believe that it might prove a useful first step on the road back to negotiations.
The UK’s position has not changed, including towards the West Bank and the 1967 borders, and I am glad that we repeatedly reaffirm this commitment including most recently at the UN Security Council. We will continue to do so.
You may also be interested to know that I recently raised this issue with the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons on behalf of my constituents. An extract of this from Hansard (the official record of Parliamentary proceedings is below and available here).
Antony Higginbotham (Burnley) (Conservative)
The situation in the middle east is a concern to me and my constituents and it is a long-running problem, which has not just existed for the past couple of weeks. Could the Secretary of State outline the steps that we are taking to bring both Israel and Palestine to the table, so that we can secure lasting peace in the region?
Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary) (Conservative)
I have spoken to President Abbas and Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu previously. We make clear that the United Kingdom’s consistent position—in fairness, across all sides of this House—is that we want to see a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. We acutely feel that the vacuum without talks is very dangerous. We want to see talks proceed. That is why we are working with those partners in the region, Arab countries and the E3.
Let me be absolutely crystal clear to the House: we have made clear that any annexation, partial or full, in relation to further territory in the occupied territories and the west bank would be both contrary to international law and counterproductive to peace.