On 11th and 13th February 2020 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received written answers to five questions, on Israel & Palestine.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL1278 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they had with the government of the United States about their proposal Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of Palestinian and Israeli People prior to its publication on 28 January.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The US Administration shared details of their proposals with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in advance. The Prime Minister discussed the United States’ proposals during a call with President Trump on 28 January and the Foreign Secretary has also spoken to Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Pompeo.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL1279 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the government of the United States’ proposal Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of Palestinian and Israeli People, published on 28 January.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: All serious proposals for peace deserve a fair hearing. A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that leads to peaceful coexistence could unlock the potential for the entire region, and provide both sides with the opportunity for a brighter future. Only Israeli and Palestinian leaders can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent. We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: As the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa made clear in his statement on 7 January, it is the UK’s longstanding position that settlements are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of the two-state solution. We want to see a contiguous West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as part of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders. We urge Israel to halt its settlement expansion, which promotes the effective annexation of the West Bank, immediately.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL1282 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the risks to peace of unilaterally annexing land in the West Bank.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised our concerns about unilateral annexation with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 4 February. As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his statement on 31 January, we are concerned by reports of possible moves toward annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel. Any such unilateral moves would be damaging to renewed efforts to re-start peace negotiations, contrary to international law and could not pass unchallenged.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL1281 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the competing claims to the territory of East Jerusalem and the prospects for a likely resolution to such claims.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK’s longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process is clear and has not changed: we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees. A final determination of the status of Jerusalem should be sought as part of a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.