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Occupation of East Jerusalem

Volume 699: debated on Monday 19 July 2021

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the residents of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem are facing dispossession and forced evictions from their homes; further that Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem has facilitated discriminatory laws against Palestinians who now have little recourse to the law and face the constant threat of dispossession and displacement; further that the SNP strongly condemns all breaches of international law and violence and supports the European Union position of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders; further that the International Criminal Court must be able to do its duty and urgently conduct a full investigation; further that the Israeli Government must reconsider its position of non-cooperation with the ICC’s impartial probe; and further that this illegal occupation cannot continue with no investigation and repercussions.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to support the International Criminal Courts’ investigation into the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and to take the necessary steps to reach a peaceful resolution to the current violence.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 19 May 2021; Vol. 695, c. 822.]


Observations from The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa (James Cleverly):

The UK's opposition to evictions of Palestinians from their homes is long-standing and well known. The Geneva Convention, which applies to all occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, prohibits demolitions or forced evictions absent military necessity. The practice causes unnecessary suffering to Palestinians and is harmful to efforts to promote peace. We urge Israel to cease such actions permanently. We are monitoring court proceedings around Sheikh Jarrah and will continue to make our views on the issue clear.

The UK is helping fund legal aid for Palestinians in 96% of ongoing cases. We remain particularly concerned about the further demolitions in Humsa Al Bqai'a. The UK has publicly called on Israel to end these demolitions and we will continue to raise this with the Israeli Government. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv has reiterated the UK position in meetings with the new Government of Israel.

As the Foreign Secretary made clear during his visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) on 26 May, settlements are illegal under international law and damaging to peace efforts. The UK has condemned decisions by the Government of Israel to advance the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, which causes serious damage to a viable Palestinian state and calls into question Israel's commitment to the two-state solution.

We continue to urge Israel to cease such actions permanently. UK Officials at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv continue to raise the issue regularly with the Israeli authorities and repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

The UK's long-standing 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 lines with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees. Our position was reflected in our support for UN Security Council resolution 2334 and we continue to urge Israel at the highest level to halt settlement expansion immediately.

The UK's position is that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement, and ultimately the shared capital of both states.

We continue to strongly support scrutiny of the situation in the OPTs.

We regularly engage the UN Security Council, working closely with European and regional partners, as well as the US.

The UK is a proud friend of Israel. We stand up for Israel when it faces bias and disproportionate focus. However, we do not hold back from voicing or raising concern about Israel's actions when warranted.

The UK remains resolute in its commitment to Israel's security. We condemn Hamas' indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks against Israel and the Israeli people. Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence. In exercising this right, it is vital that all actions are proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.

The UK is a strong supporter of international criminal justice and accountability. The UK is a strong supporter of the ICC and we respect the independence of the Court and its officials. We do not consider that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance as the UK does not currently recognise Palestinian statehood.

The situation on the ground demonstrates the urgent need to make progress towards peace. We are actively working with partners to support a durable ceasefire and to encourage the parties to address the drivers of conflict. The UK remains committed to the two-state solution as the best way to bring peace and stability to the region, and ensure a comprehensive and permanent solution to the conflict.