Bishop of Worcester calls for end to demolition of Palestinian homes and land confiscation in West Bank and east Jerusalem

On 17th March 2016 Lord Hylton led a question for short debate, to ask Her Majesty’s Government “to what extent they will implement the recommendations of the House of Commons International Development Committee in their report of July 2014, The UK’s Development Work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge spoke in the debate:

worcesterThe Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for securing this debate. As someone who wants to see the flourishing of both Israel and Palestine, I welcome this report, although I am saddened by the situation that has developed since its publication. In their response to the report, the Government affirm their support of a two-state solution. If that is to remain a possibility, we surely need to do all we can to persuade Israel to end the demolition of Palestinian homes and the confiscation of Palestinian land throughout the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has drawn attention to the spiralling numbers of such demolitions. Abu Nwar is one of 46 Bedouin and herding communities that are targeted by the Government of Israel’s plan to relocate 7,000 Palestinians living in Area C, including in the contentious E1 area around Jerusalem, in order to allow for the expansion of Israeli settlements in the central West Bank. Diplomatic representatives visited Abu Nwar on several occasions, reaffirming that demolitions and settlement expansion in the E1 area were a clear red line for the European Union as they would effectively cut the West Bank in half, separate east Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and render the objective of a viable two-state solution unachievable.

If a two-state solution is to be viable, there is also a pressing need for a genuinely transformative peace process that is underpinned by international law, holds all to account and, crucially, is supported by mechanisms that allow both parties to understand the narratives of the other, not least the territorial expressions of identity that both express and promote.

Finally, as has been suggested, development work in the Occupied Territories cannot be separated from what is happening in Gaza and there needs to be an increased effort to help bring an urgent end to the blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of the Gazan population.


Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): [extract] …Recent reports of a large increase in demolitions of Palestinian structures since the start of 2016 are extremely concerning. This was raised particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester. Demolitions cause unnecessary suffering to Palestinians, are harmful to the peace process and, in all but the most limited circumstances, are contrary to international humanitarian law. Our embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concerns about demolitions with Israeli authorities and will continue to raise this at the political level.