Skip to main content

Middle East

Volume 671: debated on Tuesday 4 February 2020

As I said on 14 January, our strategic aims remain to de-escalate US-Iran tensions, constrain Iran’s nuclear development and hold Iran to account for destabilising activity in the middle east. We remain fully committed to the joint comprehensive plan of action. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary and I have all spoken to counterparts in the United States, Iran and across the region to underline the need for de-escalation on all sides.

Any unified and prosperous Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel is unrealistic as long as the Hamas terror group continues to be committed to the destruction of Israel. Will my right hon. Friend join me in calling for renewed international pressure on Hamas to renounce violence and to disarm?

My hon. Friend is of course absolutely right. The renunciation of violence and the return to the political process are of crucial importance in trying to get towards what I think we all want in this House, which is a peaceful and amicable settlement that respects the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, and in particular a deal that gives refugees, of whom there are a huge number in the region, a proper future.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the ways we can help to secure a long-lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is by working with our allies to support initiatives that promote dialogue and co-existence, such as the international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace, as well as ensuring that UK taxpayers’ money is not misdirected or misused but goes to the people who actually need it?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There are of course a large number of projects and initiatives, many of them funded by the United Kingdom, that are aimed at promoting peace. He will be aware that we are one of the major contributors to the humanitarian situation—we hope, of course, pro tem—before we get a definitive political process that enables a viable Palestinian state to live alongside the state of Israel.

In relation to de-escalating tensions, may I thank the Minister for having met my constituent Mr Robert Cummings, the grandfather of Luke Symons, who is being held by Houthis in Sana’a? May I convey, through him, a request for an opportunity to meet the Foreign Secretary himself to discuss the case further?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. We have discussed the case of Luke Symons at some length, and of course my door always remains open. We continue to do what we can in a very difficult and challenging situation with our interlocutors and partners to secure the outcome that I know the hon. Gentleman wants for Mr Cummings.