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Israel and Palestine

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2023

17. What recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of formally recognising the state of Palestine. (900605)

20. What steps his Department is taking with international partners to support a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. (900608)

There must be a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a two-state solution that provides justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The aerial bombardment by Israel of one of the most densely populated regions in the world in Gaza has been devastating. Recent statistics reported in Israel show that 61% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. When the Prime Minister spoke to the Israeli Prime Minister last week, did he urge him to stop besieging and blockading Gaza, to comply with international law, which must mean being proportionate, and to protect innocent lives?

The hon. Member is right. At the COP, the Prime Minister was able to have meetings with Qatar, Egypt and Jordan, as well as with Israel, and he reiterated the point that he has made publicly before, which is that Israel has the right to self-defence, but it must operate within international humanitarian law.

The Minister talks about the need for a two-state solution, and we will not find much disagreement on that, but how can he advocate a two-state solution when the Government refuse to recognise the state of Palestine? Is he confident that there will be much left of Palestine after Israel’s continued bombardment? That is why we need a ceasefire right now.

The Government strongly support the two-state solution. Of course, before these terrible events on 7 October, there were new partnerships with Israel developing across the middle east: one thinks in particular of the Emirates and Bahrain. When there is a break in the clouds and an opportunity for a political track to get going, we will do everything we can to build on the important point that the hon. Member underlined.

Notwithstanding the attempted genocide of 7 October and the cynical use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, the single best solution for peace in the region is a two-state solution. What steps are the Government taking to facilitate that? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the kidnappers, murderers and rapists of Hamas cannot be involved in those negotiations?

Yes. We certainly agree with the United States that Gaza should be under Palestinian control in due course and that there is no place for Hamas in all of that. In respect of my hon. Friend’s point about how we advance towards a two-state solution, he will know that the Foreign Secretary has been both in Tel Aviv and on the west bank in Ramallah, and we are looking to see what Britain can do to help build the capacity of the Palestinian state in the future, and to bolster it.

The Minister will have access to intelligence—ours and that of our allies—that he may not be in a position to share with the House. Will he therefore share his understanding of the effectiveness of Israel’s campaign to weaken and eliminate Hamas and return the hostages, given the appalling and unacceptable loss of innocent Palestinian life—thousands and thousands of children have been maimed and killed—given the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, given that more than 100 Israeli hostages remain in captivity there, and given that Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel every day?

We are doing everything we can to help the hostages to whom she referred and to ensure that they come home. We do that through negotiations, not least in Qatar, and through the overflights, which I referred to earlier. The hon. Lady may rest assured that the Government take precisely the same view as her on what should be achieved.