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Middle East Peace Plan

Volume 671: debated on Tuesday 4 February 2020

9. What steps he plans to take to encourage (a) his Israeli counterpart, (b) the Palestinian Authority and (c) other middle east states to discuss the potential merits of the US Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan. (900593)

11. What representations he has made to his counterpart in the US Administration on the proposed peace deal for the middle east. (900595)

21. What representations he has made to his counterpart in the US Administration on the proposed peace deal for the middle east. (900606)

We welcome the US proposals for peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on recognition of the two-state solution. We support this initiative to get both sides around the negotiating table.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the United States’ “Peace to Prosperity” plan is a set of serious and constructive proposals that deserves more than instant rejection, and that whatever the pros and cons of the plan, if we are to secure a lasting peace, the only way to do so is through direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

I thank my hon. Friend. This is a first step on the road back to negotiations. The absence of dialogue creates a vacuum that only fuels instability and leads to the drifting of the two sides further and further apart, so whatever the different views, we want both sides to get around the negotiating table to work to improve the plan and to get peace in the middle east.

A peace plan without Palestinian participation is not a peace plan—it is an annexation plan. Can the Secretary of State assure us that the Government will not accept either this plan or any unilateral annexation plan, and perhaps take the step now to recognise an independent Palestinian state before there is no state left to recognise?

I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman that any annexation unilaterally would be contrary to international law, damaging to peace efforts, and cannot go unchallenged, but the answer is to get both sides around the negotiating table. That is why not only the UK but the French, the Italians, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Japan, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Oman have all called for the parties, based on this initiative, to come back to talks.

I am sure that the Secretary of State considers himself a friend of the people of Israel, as I do, and of America, and, I hope, of Palestine. Does he agree that it is the duty of real friends to speak the truth at difficult times? The truth is that this is no peace plan: worse, by making the Palestinians spectators in their own land, annexing illegal settlements and destroying hopes, it paves the way for further conflict. Will he speak that truth to Israel and America?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that we need to speak candidly on all sides of this debate. I have spoken to the Americans. I also spoke to President Abbas on 27 January. The reality is that whatever concerns any side has about this set of proposals, they will get resolved and improved only with both sides around the negotiating table. Rejectionism—the current vacuum—is only making matters worse. We would like to see peaceful dialogue and a negotiated solution, and that must be based on the two-state solution and the principles of international law.

The 22-member Arab League and the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Co-operation have both rejected the so-called Trump peace plan, because they recognise that it has no benefit for the Palestinian people, so why do the British Government continue to support it?

We support it along with—the hon. Gentleman failed to mention this—the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Omanis and Qatar. They have all given statements saying that it is a first step on the road to negotiations that can resolve the conflict. [Interruption.] They put out two statements. I heard the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) chuntering from a sedentary position. The reality is that rejectionism—the vacuum that currently exists—will only make matters worse. We want to see a negotiated two-state solution. That will happen only if both parties come to the negotiating table.