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House of Commons Hansard
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Occupied Palestinian Territories
12 January 2016
Volume 604
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10. What discussions he has had with the Government of Israel on reducing tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. [902972]

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Incidents of violence have slowed, but we remain concerned about the situation and encourage both sides to de-escalate tensions. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have called on all sides to restore calm.

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While the peace talks stall and tensions escalate, the continued expansion of settlements makes a two-state solution ever more difficult to achieve. What representations is the Minister making to the Israelis about the illegal settlements?

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I made a statement at the weekend about Israel’s announcement on settlements. The hon. Lady is absolutely right. We are an important friend—an ally—of Israel, but the issue of settlements makes it much harder to achieve, and takes us further away from, the two-state solution we seek.

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17. November 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration, which was an historic step in the creation of modern Israel. Are there any plans to mark this anniversary? [902979]

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. During this Parliament, we mark a series of events and decisions that took place during and after world war one, including the Balfour declaration, the then Foreign Secretary’s letter to the leader of the British Jewish community, Lord Rothschild. We are proud of the role that Britain played in supporting the birth of the state of Israel, but the incompletion of the Oslo accords reminds us that there is still work to do to honour the declaration in full. But, yes, we will mark the Balfour declaration anniversary this year.

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20. The only way truly to de-escalate tensions is through the restarting of meaningful peace talks. What are the UK Government doing to support this aim? [902984]

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We continue to press both sides to come together. John Kerry said not long ago that the middle east peace process must not become a tired old slogan or some throwaway phrase we use to appease our consciences. We need to get both sides back to the table. That is what the Palestinian and Israeli people want.

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Will the Minister tell us, then, what the Government are doing to ensure this issue remains at the top of the international agenda?

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As I say, we call on both parties to resume talks as soon as possible. Prime Minister Netanyahu, on his visit to London and when he was in Washington, and President Abbas have made it clear that they are committed to the two-state solution, but we should also make it clear that the status quo is not acceptable. We currently have a 1.5-state solution, not a two-state solution or a one-state solution, which I do not think is what Israel wants, because the Jewish community would be the minority. We need to get the parties together to work towards that two-state solution, because the status quo is not acceptable.

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Has the Minister made representations about the current Palestinian campaign of inciting violence, which has led to 40 young Palestinians committing acts of terrorism, including shootings and stabbings of Israeli civilians on the streets of Israel?

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The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise that point. Both sides need to refrain from rhetoric and from taking actions that clearly inflame the situation rather than take us where we want to be. Some of the acts of violence are not incited, although some are. It shows the frustration of some individuals who have lost faith in their own leadership. The fact that youngsters can get out a knife and go off and kill an Israeli, knowing the consequences, reflects the dire situation we face. That makes it all the more urgent that the leaders come together and move towards a two-state solution.