Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israeli Settlements Debate:
Here is the full speech i gave in the Main Chamber on the issue of Occupied Palestinian Territories
Like many in this House who are determined to see a peaceful solution in the middle east, I welcome this timely debate, which allows us to reaffirm our support for lasting peace and to commend the Government on signing UN resolution 2334 last December. As the Palestinians have done since 1993, I recognise and accept a two-state solution and Israel’s existence. However, the last two weeks has seen that vision placed at greater risk by the acts of the Israeli Government—a democracy that does not live up to the values that it espouses. The passing of the regulation law, which even the hard-right MP, Benny Begin, described as the “robbery law” flies in the face of the resolution and international efforts for peace.
The UN resolution could not set out more clearly the international law on settlements and settlement expansion in occupied Palestine. We as a country have been very clear that settlements are an obstacle to peace, have no legality and are against international law. We have tolerated Israel changing the physical reality on the ground. We must never tolerate any attempt to change the legal position.
In drafting and signing the UN resolution, we have committed ourselves to a number of essential positions: we call on both sides to act on the basis of international law; we reiterate that settlements and further expansion are a flagrant violation of international law and an obstacle to peace; we accept no change to the 1967 border that is not agreed by both sides; and we will do everything to encourage peace.
Passing the regulation law flies in the face of everything that we declared at the UN. It is a travesty for a Government to legislate in a land that is not under the rule of their Parliament, where the people of that land have no representation. It is a signal that the UN, the ICC and global diplomatic efforts have no impact on the actions of the current Government.
Many have spoken out in condemnation of the law, which the UN special enjoy to the middle east described as crossing “a thick red line” and by a former Israeli Minister as “evil and dangerous”. It is against the principles of democracy and Israeli law and even the Israeli Attorney General is likely to argue against it in court.
I congratulate the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) on securing the debate, and I support the motion. It is high time that we moved beyond condemnations and hollow words of support. We must support moves towards accountability and demonstrate our commitment to the rule of law. Only then can we shape a different future for these children and generations to come. Celebrating Amona is disheartening. Israel was just abiding by the law—it was asked to remove occupants from Amona, and that was not to be celebrated.