This week, there was an Urgent Question in Parliament about what the UK Government was doing to put an end to the ongoing violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the last two weeks, the USA has blocked a joint resolution from the United Nations Security Council calling for a ceasefire no less than three times. I asked the Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa what steps his Department was taking to put pressure on the USA to stop standing in the way of a peaceful resolution. Judging from the Minister’s non-answer, none. It is disappointing that the UK Government refuses to call out our allies when they are in the wrong.
I also raised concern about our Government’s ongoing refusal to recognise the state of Palestine. Their stated commitment to a two-state solution is undermined by their failure to recognise one of the states this would include.
Israeli air strikes killed 232 Palestinians in the 10 days of fighting from 10th-20th May, including 65 children. 12 people have been killed in Israel, including 2 children. I am glad that the week has ended with a ceasefire. But there will be no lasting peace between the people of Israel and Palestine unless the international community will accept the fundamental asymmetry of this conflict and act accordingly.
That begins with recognising Palestine as a state with full membership of the United Nations and acknowledging the illegal conduct of Israel’s Government, from its settlements on the West Bank to the ongoing clearances of Palestinian families, settler violence in Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, and repeated human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The UK Government should also suspend all arms exports to Netanyahu’s Government until it can conclusively rule out the use of UK military hardware in the latest Israeli air strikes and consider imposing sanctions. We shouldn’t be doing business with countries that flout international law.