Thank you to everyone who has got in touch to raise their concerns about the evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem and reports of ensuing violence.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are not only morally wrong but illegal under international law. As I have made clear before I am very strongly opposed to the annexation of Palestinian lands and share your concerns over the confiscation of private property and forced evictions of eight families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
I have been very troubled by videos escalating violence and injuries in East Jerusalem. In particular, the deployment of tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets against civilians, with reports of some blinded, is deeply concerning.
Last week the co-chairs of the British Palestine APPG wrote to the Foreign Secretary calling on the UK Government to consider taking action including ‘reducing diplomatic engagement and banning trade in settlement products’. These demands echo those I made last year in response to planned Israeli settlements on the West Bank where I called for the Government to ‘immediately ban goods entering the UK from illegal settlements in the West Bank’ if such blatant breaches of international law took place.
I believe a two-state solution is the only way to peacefully end the senseless cycle of violence and suffering in both Israel and Palestine which continues to affect far too many lives. I am concerned that scenes like those in Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Holy Month of Ramadan seriously undermine the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution and risks the stability and security of the wider Middle East.
I echo the call issued by Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary for Israel to halt evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem in line with its obligations under international law and end attempts by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian lands. It is critical that Government is not a passive observer and I am aware that the UN Security Council, which the UK is a permanent member of, is meeting today to discuss rising tensions in East Jerusalem.
I will continue to press the Government to meet our international and moral obligations to work towards a peaceful two-state solution, within internationally recognised borders, that will enable both Israelis and Palestinians to live full lives side by side.