The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answers on 17th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked His Majesty’s Government what response they have received from the government of Israel regarding the joint call that they and diplomatic representatives from 16 other countries made on the 13 March to reverse the eviction of six Palestinian families from Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): No such response was received, and I [Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon] have raised this matter with the Israeli ambassador separately. Demolitions and evictions from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, demolitions by an occupying power are contrary to international humanitarian law. Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv have repeatedly raised our apprehensions about demolitions with Israeli ministers and senior officials and we continue to support Palestinians through UK funding to legal aid programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Foreign Secretary has reinforced this message on 7 April when he called for de-escalation and made clear the need to avoid actions which escalate tensions and violence.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of their state of relations with the Palestinian Authority following the recall of the Head of Mission of the Palestinian Authority to the UK in response to the 2030 roadmap for UK-Israel bilateral relations, signed on 21 March.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Palestinian Head of Mission Zomlot and I (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) met on 31 March to discuss this issue, and I reaffirmed the UK’s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution based on 1967 lines. The UK is a friend of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian people. We support Palestinians in realising self-determination through an independent sovereign, and unified Palestinian state, in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the diplomatic visit on 30 January to the Palestinian community of Khan Al Ahmar regarding the threat of demolition facing that village, what was the outcome of their meeting in London with the Israeli Foreign Minister about the future of Khan Al Ahmar.
Lord Ahmad: The Foreign Secretary and I (Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon) met Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in London on 21 March and emphasised the need to de-escalate the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories as we approach the convergence of several religious festivals. That included asking the Israeli Government to refrain from unilateral actions, such as demolitions, that make achieving this de-escalation more difficult. I know that the Prime Minister also echoed this message of de-escalation in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on 24 March. We oppose the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, and we continue to urge Israel to cease evictions and demolitions of Palestinian property in Area C, which cause unnecessary suffering and in all, but the most exceptional circumstances are illegal under international law.
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