Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about Israeli settlements and UK trade.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are not only wrong but illegal. They are a barrier to peace. The demolition of houses and the eviction of Palestinian people from their homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank is deplorable.
I shared your deep and widespread concern about the previous Israeli Government’s proposals last year to annex large parts of the West Bank. These proposals were not only in direct contravention of international law but would have risked fundamentally undermining efforts to negotiate a peaceful two-state solution. They would have also risked jeopardising longstanding peace treaties with neighbouring countries such as Egypt and Jordan, at a time of continued regional and global insecurity.
I did not believe the British Government should have been a passive observer on this issue. That is why I supported a trade ban which included banning goods entering the UK from the illegal settlements and any annexed territories if the Israeli Government followed through on its annexation plans. This would have meant working with international partners to exert pressure on the Israeli Government to change course. Although formal annexation was stopped, illegal settlement expansion continued and Palestinians have still been evicted from their homes. I remain seriously concerned about ongoing violations of international law, but importantly in Israel a new government has recently been elected. I support the efforts being made, including by Shadow Ministers, to press the new Israeli Government for a significant change in approach and to assess whether this has taken place.
I am totally committed to a two-state solution, in which a sovereign and viable Palestinian state exists alongside a safe and secure Israel. I support the recognition of Palestine as part of international efforts to bring about a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. I would also like to see the Government encourage and support the creation of a new climate in Israel and Palestine, conducive to securing a lasting peace. I would therefore like the Government to support projects that promote coexistence. Only when Palestinians and Israelis have an ongoing dialogue, when they live and work together and engage in reconciliation, can there be a firm basis for a permanent peace.
I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Government to meet our international and moral obligations on this issue.