The UK is intensely focused on, and concerned by, the increasing violence on the west bank. The Foreign Secretary spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, on Tuesday to emphasise the importance of Israeli de-escalation ahead of the convergence of Easter, Passover and Ramadan. As the Foreign Secretary set out to this House on 14 March, he has also urged the Palestinian leadership to take steps to avoid a cycle of violence. While the security situation remains fragile, I welcome Israeli and Palestinian engagement in the meetings in Aqaba on 26 February and Sharm el-Sheikh on 19 March. It is critical that both parties abide by the commitments made there publicly and take forward the confidence-building measures that they have promised.
The UK wants to see three steps that would demonstrate commitment to de-escalating the worrying situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. First, the Palestinian Authority must resume security co-operation with Israel, fight against terror and incitement of violence, and improve the security situation in area A of the west bank. Too many Israelis have been killed in terror attacks in Israel and the west bank this year. Such targeted attacks against civilians are unlawful, unjustifiable and repugnant.
Secondly, Israel must do more to tackle unacceptable settler violence such as that perpetrated against innocent Palestinians in Huwara. The UK has consistently urged Israeli security forces to provide appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population, bring to justice perpetrators of settler violence and end the culture of impunity. The UK condemned the Israeli Finance Minister’s comments calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be “wiped out” and his recent comments that deny the existence of the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination and their history and culture.
Thirdly, Israel must also cease its unilateral steps that push parties further from dialogue and reduce the possibility of meaningful negotiations. Those steps include stopping approval of settlements, legalisation of outposts and evictions of Palestinians in occupied territory, particularly in east Jerusalem. The Foreign Secretary raised our concerns about the speculation of settlement building on the E1 site in the OPTs and we are pleased that there has now been a moratorium on that expansion. However, we are deeply concerned at the recent repeal of the 2005 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law by the Knesset. That decision is another unilateral measure that damages any renewed efforts at de-escalation and risks further undermining a two-state solution.
All Israelis and Palestinians deserve peace and security, not just through the upcoming festivals of Easter, Passover and Ramadan this spring, but for the long term. That will require political will, good faith, strong co-operation and meaningful actions by both Israelis and Palestinians. The UK remains resolute in its commitment to a two-state solution based on 1967 lines.
I pay my respects to both Palestinians and Israelis who have been killed in recent violence. Ramadan Mubarak; today marks the start of Ramadan and I, like many Muslims, am fasting. Yet Muslims and those of other faiths or no faith in the occupied Palestinian territories have seen a significant increase in human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli authorities.
More than 1,000 Palestinians are at imminent risk of forcible transfer from Masafer Yatta, an action that would amount to a war crime. The situation is rapidly deteriorating and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, lands in the UK today on a state visit. During talks, the UK Government must call for a de-escalation of violence.
Amnesty International concluded last year that Israel is
“committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.”
Will the UK Government raise those concerns with the Prime Minister? The Finance Minister recently stated:
“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people”,
and said he wanted to see the Palestinian village of Huwara wiped off the map. Will the Minister put on record her disgust at that type of language?
The Israeli Government continue to push for the development of illegal settlements, despite promising not to do so. If that construction does not stop, will the UK Government commit to suspending trade deal talks with Israeli counterparts until we can ensure human rights are safeguarded?
The UK Government must acknowledge the systematic and calculated discrimination against Palestinians in occupied territories carried out by the Israeli military and authorities. Will the Government finally halt their approval of the sale of arms to Israel and support the need for an independent investigation by the International Criminal Court into human rights violations?
We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Al Jazeera has escalated her killing to the ICC after the Israeli defence force refused to investigate her killing and former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said:
“No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare”.
Do the Government accept that, unless they urgently support the ICC investigation, they are turning a blind eye to blatant military impunity for murdering Palestinians?
I am happy to repeat that the UK condemned the Israeli Finance Minister’s comments calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be wiped out, and his recent comments denying the existence of the Palestinian people. We have condemned that absolutely, and I think that has been heard clearly.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will visit the UK tomorrow, and has asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister. He will have a short meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. I know that the Prime Minister will raise the issues that concern us—as all good, trusted friends and partners do. We are confident and always do so with all our partners, including Israel.
The hon. Lady mentioned the anniversary of the death of respected Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. It seems extraordinary that we are already a year on. The UK is committed to working with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to advance that peaceful two-state solution. We voted no on the resolution pertaining to referral to the ICC because we consider that is not helpful to bringing the parties back to dialogue.[Official Report, 27 March 2023, Vol. 730, c. 6MC.] As I set out in my answer to the urgent question, we continue to work with all parties to help find a way forward. We hope that the continuing role of talks will help to move that forward.
In recent weeks, three of the many terrorist attacks that have occurred in Israel were committed by children under 15 —two stabbings and one shooting. I ask the Government to urge the Palestinian Authority to do more to tackle that toxic culture of radicalisation and anti-Israel hatred, which is leading to the exploitation and radicalisation of children, and to their involvement in terrorist attacks.
My right hon. Friend highlights one of the most distressing aspects of the continued violence and despair between both countries. We continue to work with all parties, as I have set out, to try to reduce the level of violence. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will raise that in his meetings tomorrow and ask parties to continue to take urgent measures to reduce tensions, de-escalate the situation and, indeed, end that deadly cycle of violence. Of course, that includes supporting them in trying to keep children away from that radicalisation position.
The Labour party stands for international law, human rights and a negotiated peace based on a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel alongside a sovereign Palestinian state.
At the last elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went into coalition with the far right and, under that new Government, an already fragile situation has worsened. His promotion of extremists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich has put ultra-nationalism in key positions of the Israeli Government. I am sure that the whole House will have been appalled by Smotrich’s remarks in Paris this weekend, when he denied the very existence of the Palestinian people and their culture.
Thus far, 2023 has seen one of the highest death tolls for Palestinians and Israelis in a long time, with more than 80 Palestinians and 14 Israelis killed this year. There has been a renewed assault on the rights of Palestinians, a ramping up of inflammatory rhetoric, and dangerous new moves to try to legitimatise illegal settlements, threatening the viability of a two-state solution. Israel has suffered from terrorist attacks and a new militant threat, and the Israeli Government are also taking steps that threaten to undermine Israel’s democracy. President Netanyahu’s attempts to undermine judicial independence and dispense with equality laws for the LGBT+ community are sowing division and deep unease. The weekly mass protests in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem demonstrate that Israeli society is now also deeply divided.
What is the Minister’s assessment of the impact of what many in Israel see as fundamental attacks on their precious democracy? The Prime Minister has, in his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow, an opportunity to use Britain’s close relationship with Israel to take a clear stance on human rights, respect for international law and commitment to democracy. I am deeply concerned that the recently signed road map for UK-Israel bilateral relations dilutes long-standing UK positions, held by successive Governments, in relation to international law. The road map makes no mention of supporting a two-state solution, and it implies that settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could be treated as part of Israel for the purposes of trade. Can the Minister tell the House whether the road map amounts to a change in policy, will she reiterate that the Government still support a two-state solution, and will she make it clear that the UK deplores the current escalation of violence?
It is always encouraging to hear both sides of the House agree that the UK’s position on the middle east process finding a resolution is that we want to see a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living side by side with a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees. That remains a clear position and has not changed.
The road map that the Foreign Secretary signed with his counterpart earlier in the week in London fulfils the commitments that were made in the November 2021 memorandum of understanding on strengthening co-operation across a range of relationships around our economic, security and technology ties and, importantly, advancing our co-operation on environmental and climate change issues, and leveraging our combined strengths in that area to address some of the global health challenges. It also contains provisions on the importance of regional co-operation in working together to expand the historic Abraham accords. That is a series of practical issues that we will work upon together with our Israeli friends, but it does not in any way change the UK’s position—it is good to hear the shadow Minister set out the same—on the agreed settlement that we continue to support.
Polling conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research showed that 72% of all Palestinians supported the formation of armed terror groups such as the Lions’ Den. These groups have been behind more than 1,000 terror incidents over the last year and are facilitated with Iranian and Hezbollah financial and military support. Does my right hon. Friend share my concern at the emergence of these groups, the high level of support they are receiving and the Palestinian Authority’s apparent loss of control over so much of the west bank to these terror groups?
I reiterate that we absolutely condemn violence from all sides, and we want to ensure that we help the Palestinian Authority to improve their security through the work of the British support team in Ramallah, whom I had the privilege to visit last year on my visit to the OPTs, along with the many networks that we are helping to strengthen and stabilise their own communities. We remain resolute in our commitment to Israel’s security, and we condemn Hamas’s use of indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks. We want to continue to provide support and the strong, clear message that every Israeli and every Palestinian has the right to live in peace and security.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Ms Qaisar) on securing this urgent question. Clearly, settlement expansion is a major issue in the violence that is continuing to break out. This week, the Israeli Parliament voted to allow Israeli citizens to occupy four sites in the west bank evacuated in the 2005 disengagement. The High Court of Justice has already classified this as private Palestinian land. Clearly, the moratorium that the Minister mentioned is not being respected here.
We know that this is not a simple situation, but there are some simple steps that we can take here to make a difference. Will the Minister support the UK banning trade in Israeli settlement goods? Will she include the UK Government’s own stated position that these settlements are illegal in any and all agreements with Israel and provide for consequences for breach of that? Will she also carry that forward into forthcoming trade deal discussions? Will she stop the export of equipment and arms proven to be repeatedly used in settlement expansion, and will she do it now?
The UK’s position on settlements is clear: settlements are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution. We have urged Israel to halt its settlement expansion, which we believe threatens the physical viability of a Palestinian state. In February, we and our partners—the US, France, Germany and Italy—set out strong opposition to these unilateral steps. They are contrary to international law, and they undermine the prospects for peace.
In relation to trade matters, our long-established position on settlements is clear: the UK does not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories as part of Israel, including illegal settlements. Goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the west bank, including East Jerusalem, are not entitled to tariff and trade preferences under either the existing trade agreement between the UK and Israel or, indeed, the agreement between the UK and the Palestinian Authority.
I was really pleased to hear from the Minister that she and the Government continue to support the two-state solution on the former boundaries of 1967. How does she believe that can happen? When I visited recently, the settlements are being built on top of Palestinian houses, and they are insisting on demolitions of Palestinian houses. How can it possibly work?
My hon. Friend raises the concerns that we all have. The voice that we use directly with both our Israeli and our Palestinian friends sets out the continued clear direction that we want to see: de-escalation and, indeed, retrenchment from those illegal settlements. This continues to be something that is on the agenda whenever we are in talks with them, and I am certain that the Prime Minister will raise those issues tomorrow when Prime Minister Netanyahu is here.
Time after time, we see on social media the crimes against humanity being visited on the Palestinian people. We see it with regularity: homes, houses and schools being destroyed, with bulldozers at the door. Will the Minister understand that this country has a special responsibility and a special place of leverage to make demands? We cannot keep going with the same endless warm words around this conflict. The time has come for this Government to recognise the state of Palestine with immediate effect, and to demand a ban on settlement goods and on the settlements themselves. Will she commit to that?
As I say, the UK Government continue to ask all parties to take urgent measures to reduce those tensions and de-escalate the situation. Because of what the hon. Gentleman has described, we continue to make those statements, and we are engaging closely with all our international partners to try to help end that deadly cycle of violence. We will carry on raising these issues with the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to support co-operation, stability and economic development for the benefit of all their peoples, and we will use the economic tools to help us do that, alongside others. This continues to be at the forefront of the Foreign Secretary’s work.
Since January, 14 Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and 80 Palestinians have lost their lives during confrontation with the IDF or in the course of terrorist activities. At the same time, we have seen the emergence of Lions’ Den and other terrorist groups, and we have also seen the role of Iran in encouraging those terrorist groups across the world. Will my right hon. Friend review the position on Lions’ Den and these other terrorist groups so that they are proscribed in this country, and also finally proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety?
As my hon. Friend is aware, this is a Home Office issue, and as I have said, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be meeting the Home Secretary tomorrow on his visit. We continue to work closely with the Home Office on all these matters, and we will await its view on them.
As the Minister has said, the settlements on the west bank are illegal and they undermine the possibility of a two-state solution, so will the Government make it absolutely clear to Benjamin Netanyahu that any attempt to annex the west bank is totally and unequivocally unacceptable?
As I have said, the UK’s position on settlements is absolutely clear. Settlements are illegal under international law and they call into question Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution. We continue to raise the issue with our Israeli counterparts and to condemn settler violence in order that de-escalation provides the opportunity for peace talks to progress.
The historic Abraham accords prove once and for all that peace between Israel and her Arab neighbours is not only possible, but can quickly bring remarkable and positive change to the region. Will my right hon. Friend join me in celebrating the accords, and does she agree that Palestinian leaders would be best served by embracing their spirit and joining Israel at the negotiating table as soon as possible?
The Abraham accords have provided an opportunity to move forward, and we were pleased to see progress at the Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh meetings earlier in the year, and we continue to support and encourage all sides to continue that process. This is difficult—we understand that—and we stand ready to support all to ensure that a two-state solution is the one that we reach.
This week, a ban was lifted to allow Israeli citizens back into the sites of four settlements in the occupied west bank. The UK must stand firm against any steps towards annexation. What concerns has the Minister raised about the legality of settlement expansion under international law and its impact on the viability of a two-state solution? Will further calls for action be made by the Government when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the UK?
The United Kingdom is opposed to the unilateral annexation of all or any part of the west bank. Such a move would be contrary to international law and damaging to peace efforts, and it could not pass unchallenged. We are committed to working with all parties to maintain calm and avoid provocation, and we are absolutely clear that demolitions and forced evictions are contrary to international humanitarian law.
I call the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Since the start of this year, as we have already heard, 15 Israelis have been killed and 70 injured in Palestinian terror attacks, with stabbings, shootings and bombings targeting innocent people. What steps is our Government taking to support Israel in combating terrorism?
We are appalled by the multiple terror attacks that have killed and injured Israelis and, indeed, Palestinian civilians in the early part of this year. While Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself, it is important that Israeli forces exercise maximum restraint, especially in the use of live fire, when protecting legitimate security interests. We are continuing to work, asking all parties to take urgent measures to reduce tensions in order to de-escalate this situation.
The Minister will be aware of the remarks of the Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, saying that the Palestinian village of Huwara should be wiped out. She will also be aware that he has said:
“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
Denying the existence of a people and calling for villages to be wiped out takes the level of rhetoric to a new level of unacceptability. With people like that now at the heart of the Netanyahu Government, is it not imperative that we do what we can to offer some protection to the Palestinian people by recognising, as a matter of urgency, the Palestinian state?
As I have said before, and I am happy to say again, the UK has condemned the Israeli Finance Minister’s comments calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be wiped out, and his recent comments that deny the existence of the Palestinian people, as well as their right to self-determination, their history and their culture. That is unacceptable, and we have made that clear, as have all our international partners. We continue to work with all parties, and with the Palestinian Authority, to provide support through the work of the British support team in Ramallah and our diplomatic teams in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, who are actively working on the ground and speaking to and working with their hosts. We are also a strong supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides vital services to those in need in Palestinian Authority areas.
The situation in the region is deeply worrying, yet there is an ever-growing fear about what will happen when Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas leaves the scene after almost two decades in power. Palestinians have borne the brunt of an undemocratic and corrupt Palestinian Authority for years, but the alternatives are likely to be much worse, and terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have been behind much of the recent violence, are likely to attempt to fill the vacuum. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the situation?
We continue to call on Hamas and other terrorist groups to permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel. The Government have assessed that Hamas in its entirety is concerned in terrorism, and in November 2021 we proscribed the organisation in full. We strongly condemn the incitement in the Hamas-run media and education system, which contributes to a culture of hate. As I say, we want to work with the Palestinian Authority and with Palestinians to help them to strengthen their economy and to support their next generation of young people in a successful two-state solution.
The terror attacks on civilians in the Palestinian territories and in Israel have been a very sharp and terrible reminder of the need to build support for peace among the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. Five years ago, the UK Government expressed support for the International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, but there has not been much action since. Does the Minister agree that people-to-people co-existence projects between Israelis and Palestinians represent the best opportunity for building consensus around peace while we have a lack of a political process? What more can the Government do?
I agree with the right hon. Lady that relationships are strengthening through economic and academic ties. When I visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories last year, I met some wonderful young people developing incredible tech solutions and young business people with deep education and real enthusiasm for helping their country’s economy to grow. Through trade agreements that already exist with Israel, and opportunities with the Palestinian Authority, we are helping those relationships to grow. Alongside that, there is the work, as I have set out, to support peaceful solutions so that those young people have the peace and prosperity they richly deserve.
The tragic escalation of violence that we are witnessing has been stoked by a number of terror actors, including Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, which are actively seeking to sow the seeds of instability in the region. Guns, explosive devices and financial support have all flooded the region in a clear attempt to undermine the democratic state of Israel. What conversations is the Foreign Office having with regional parties about these subversive activities?
As I have set out, the Foreign Secretary speaks regularly with his counterparts, and our ambassador and teams in-country in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem work very closely day by day with many actors. We continue to do so, and if my hon. Friend would like a more detailed briefing, I am happy to set that up with the relevant Minister.
Every death in this conflict is a tragedy, so I hope the Minister will disassociate herself from comments from those on her own side who either ignore the deaths of Palestinians or, in relation to Palestinian civilians—including the many children who have been murdered this year—choose to call them “confrontation with the IDF”. That is beyond the pale.
The Minister said that the road map signed this week is out of date, which is candid. It contains no territorial clause, so it opens the way for illegal settlements to be treated as part of green line Israel. Far from raising concerns about the abuse of Palestinian human rights and breaches of international law, it attacks UN bodies for raising those very concerns. Does the Minister accept that this business-as-usual approach legitimises the actions of the extremists in the far-right Israeli Government in relation to both the incitement of violence against the Palestinian civilians and the de jure annexation of the west bank by its transfer to civilian administration?
I am afraid I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of colleagues in different parts of the House. I think we all stand firmly together on the policy that those on the Labour Front Bench have highlighted, which is that we all want to see a two-state solution. We want to see Israelis and Palestinians able to live together, side by side, and allow their economies and young people to thrive in a peaceful environment. We continue to work at many levels to support that process, as I have set out. The road map sets out a series of work programmes, where we will work together in support of economic and security ties. We continue to make—as we clearly do this morning—our position known on what we consider to be violence that needs to be de-escalated. We continue, as do our international partners, to make those views clearly known, and we absolutely support the peace talks and the continuing meetings where we are starting to encourage such progress. This is a continuingly difficult situation, and the UK is clear about what we think is the right outcome. The road map is there to help that work, day to day with citizens, as is the trade agreement with the Occupied Palestinian Territories, to support their economic development.
Will the Minister finally acknowledge, on the Floor of the House, that Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are subjected to mass, calculated discrimination at the hands of Israeli authorities, and will she urgently halt arms trade to Israel?
As I have said, we continue to be deeply troubled by the high number of Palestinian civilians killed and injured. The Foreign Secretary has raised that matter recently, and I know the Prime Minister will continue to do so in his meeting tomorrow.
I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are concerned about the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which has been intensifying since the start of this year. I appreciate and welcome the Minister’s commitment to the two-state solution. Illegal settlements and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes causes unnecessary suffering and deaths and calls into question the two-state solution. Will the Minister clarify her comments in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Bambos Charalambous). Will she confirm that the road map—a key document to help outline our commitment—mentions the two-state solution?
As I said, the road map sets out our intention to strengthen co-operation, across our relationship with Israel, around economic, security and technology ties, and to advance co-operation on the environment and climate change. We continue to raise our concerns about the escalating violence, including with our international partners so that the voice of the international community is clearly heard to support a peaceful resolution.
I am sure the Minister is aware of the almost daily protests in Israel. On 11 March, half a million people came out on the streets across Israel to protest against the proposed Netanyahu judicial reforms, which will end the independent judiciary because the Government will be able to appoint judges, including to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the last bastion for many Palestinians. It stopped the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah, it put a gate in the separation wall, and it continues to prosecute cases regarding demolitions and settlement expansion. Will the Prime Minister raise with Prime Minister Netanyahu the fact that an independent judiciary is crucial, and a central pillar of any democracy?
I listened closely to the Minister outlining the sad situation in Israel and recognise the wide unrest about the political situation there. Given those circumstances, and the actions of and attitudes expressed by representatives of the Israeli Government, this cannot be business as usual. Is it time to re-evaluate totally the nature of our intergovernmental relationship with the state of Israel?
The Minister has mentioned repeatedly the need for a de-escalation of violence. However, since the election of the most right-wing Government in Israel’s history, human rights violations have increased significantly, including the deaths of innocent children. Settlements in the occupied west bank are illegal, and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes causes unnecessary suffering and calls into question the Israeli Government’s commitment to a viable two-state solution. Will the Minister outline how she intends to ensure the Israeli Government abide by their obligations under international law? No warm words—actions speak louder than words.
As I say, the UK Government continue to ask all parties to take urgent measures to reduce tensions and de-escalate. Since the beginning of the year, both the Foreign Secretary and Lord Ahmad have spoken to many influential international partners working alongside us who have a stake in calming this very difficult situation.
The Government this week announced the 2030 road map for UK-Israel relations. However, the Minister has not answered—she has been asked several times—whether she can confirm that the Government consider the road map to effectively distinguish between green line Israel and illegal settlements, as required by UN National Security resolution 2334? Will the Minister confirm whether the Government undertook any assessment of the road map’s compatibility with international law and UN Security Council resolution 2334?
I am not the expert on the detail of the road map. I will ask the Foreign Secretary to ensure that details are placed in the House, so that colleagues can see more fully the extensive work done on it and the work it brings together for the future.
I thank the Minister very much for her response. Having lived through a time of violence and fear, and raised my children in that environment, I am so thankful my grandchildren do not have the same experience. Will the Minister outline what support we are offering to Israeli and Palestine children to learn a different way: not to hate, but to live in compromise? Will she reiterate that the role of our Government and our Ministers is to facilitate the peace and not take sides, reminding certain factions that the words they use in this place can resonate in Israel and can carry difficulties that are paid in blood? Wise words must be used always.
The hon. Gentleman is wise. Fortunately, few of us have had his experience. He always speaks with great thoughtfulness on this matter. As one practical example of help, we voted to renew the UN Relief and Works Agency’s mandate last year. We remain a proud and important supporter of the agency, which provides essential humanitarian support. For instance, it provides education to over 533,000 children a year, half of them girls, and access to health services to 3.5 million Palestinian refugees. We continue to support it and are working, through the other tools we have, to help sustain it and help people look forward to the opportunities of a peaceful two-state solution, which we will continue to work on.