Hansard Parliamentary Record
25 July 2019
I want to discuss foreign policy, because although there are many problems in my constituency, we have a multi-ethnic, multi-faith community that looks not just inwards to what is happening in Preston and in Lancashire but outwards to what is happening elsewhere in the world. There is continued dismay, anger and upset at what is going on in the occupied territories in Palestine.
On Monday, Israeli troops accompanied by bulldozers began ruthlessly demolishing homes in the Palestinian village of Sur Baher, close to the separation wall in the occupied west bank. Residents of the village’s Wadi al-Hummus neighbourhood were shocked to see 16 residential buildings, which hold about 100 apartments, targeted on the pretext of security. Innocent Palestinians were watching as their homes were destroyed in front of their very eyes.
I first visited Palestine and Israel about 12 years ago. Then, there were about 15,000 to 20,000 settlers. Now I think there are around 100,000. This cannot be allowed to continue. The international community needs to take stronger action. In particular, we need stronger action by the United States. Unfortunately, under the current President, that does not seem as though it is going to happen any time soon.
9 February 2017
As has become the fashion, I declare my visits to Palestine and Israel over the past 15 years financed by various organisations.
The focus of this debate—settlements—is narrow but nevertheless very important. Some hon. Members have sought to trivialise the issue of settlements, but while they might not be the most important issue, they are nevertheless very important. We need only look at UN resolutions 242 and 338, dated 1967 and 1973, in which the key phrase refers to the:
“Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”.
It is clear that the Israeli armed forces will not be withdrawn as long as settlements exist in the west bank, so it goes without saying that settlements embody a crucial part of the problem. When I first visited Palestine, 14 or 15 years ago, there were about 50,000 settlers in the west bank. When I last visited, that number had increased to about 500,000, and I understand that the latest figure is about 600,000. The situation on the ground is changing extremely quickly, and the longer the conflict goes on, the further out of reach a two-state solution will drift. So much land will have been taken that there will be very little left for a contiguous state, as I hope the Government will recognise.
As we know, settlements were the main focus of resolution 2334 passed on 23 December. We also know that the policy of the US, the UN, the EU and the UK Government, as repeated endlessly by Ministers in the House, is that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. I do not know, therefore, how anyone can say that settlements are not part and parcel of the solution to the problem. It is said that there should be no preconditions before talks, but clearly the UN resolutions are not preconditions; they refer to international law, so the discussions and direct talks should take place on that basis. I urge the Government to recognise Palestine and apply pressure on the US and elsewhere to ensure that a two-state solution is still viable.
13 October 2014
It is very easy to call anyone who opposes the views of the Israeli Government an anti-Semite. Does my hon. Friend believe that building a wall and separation barrier on Palestinian land and building settlements that now house some 400,000 settlers is any way forward and gives the international community any confidence that Israel is willing to go through any sort of peace process? Does she also agree that this vote today is going to send a message to the Israeli Government that this Parliament and this country feel very strongly about their attitude towards Palestine?
11 December 2012
The hon. Gentleman talks about giving land for peace, but the land Israel has given did not belong to it in the first place. The only land of any size that has been given is Gaza, but the Israelis have made it plain that they do not want Gaza; they want as much of the west bank as they can take. While the building of settlements by stealth is going on, Israel claims to want peace but in the meantime does everything it can to build these settlements, which we know will be an obstacle to peace.