Skip to main content

Middle East Peace Process

Volume 596: debated on Tuesday 9 June 2015

11. What assessment his Department has made of the likely success of the French initiative for a UN resolution for new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. (900185)

We do see merit in a balanced UN Security Council resolution at the right moment, setting out parameters for a political settlement. But if such a resolution is to be part of a successful process, it must command the full support of the Security Council and, in particular, of the United States, which is the only power that has any leverage over Israel. Our judgment is that now is not the right moment for such an initiative, but I have regular discussions with my French and American counterparts on the middle east peace process. We will judge any proposal on the basis of whether it supports further progress in that process.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his detailed reply. Given that Mr Fabius will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of this month to push for a United Nations Security Council resolution to revive the peace talks between the two sides, what more can the Secretary of State do to convince the United States of America and his EU counterparts that it is now crucial to get Israel and the Palestinians round the table again?

I agree with the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question: it is crucial that we move forward. The issue with timing is that until we have resolved the nuclear negotiation with Iran, which is an extremely sensitive issue in the middle east—including with Israel—our judgment is that we would be throwing away an opportunity to play an important card in the middle east peace process. We need to get the Iran thing dealt with first, and then we need to press the US Administration to deliver on the commitment that they have repeatedly made to us—that after the Israeli elections and the Israeli Government had been formed, there would be a new, American-led initiative.

We believe that European Union countries individually unilaterally recognising Palestine is throwing away an opportunity that the European Union has to exercise leverage by collectively holding out the prospect of recognition or non-recognition as a way of influencing behaviour.

Last Wednesday, the Minister of State, Department for International Development, the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Mr Swayne) told the House:

“The international community has recognised that the PA is now ready for statehood.”—[Official Report, 3 June 2015; Vol. 596, c. 575.]

When will the Government recognise the Palestinian state, in line with the vote of this House last October?

Long before the House voted last October, the Government’s position has been clear: we will recognise Palestinian statehood at a time that we judge contributes most to the delivery of an enduring settlement in the middle east.

What is the Foreign Secretary’s present assessment of the extent to which the Palestinian side is unified between Hamas and Fatah?