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Israel and International Law

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2023

8. What recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on Israel’s obligations under international law. (900596)

Israel has the right to defend itself against terror, restore its security and bring the hostages home, but it must abide by international law and take all possible measures to protect civilians.

I do not disagree with anything that the Minister has just said, but the question is: what does Israel having to abide by international law actually look like? We know that it has acted with impunity in the west bank with illegal settlements, and historically with the building of the wall and so on. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) said, the sheer scale of casualties of innocent civilians in Gaza raises serious questions. What does it actually mean when we say that Israel has to abide by international law?

It means precisely what it says. The fact that Israel is a democracy and the fact that all around the world people will be looking carefully at how things are being conducted in the region should give the hon. Lady hope that international humanitarian law counts and will be supported.

Recently the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan KC, visited Israel and the west bank. In relation to Gaza, he stated:

“A law is not some cosmetic adornment that can be disregarded. It’s a fundamental requirement that must be complied with.”

I assume the Minister will agree with that. If that is the case, will he ensure that Britain co-operates fully with the prosecutor in his work?

As a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, Britain will always co-operate. We strongly support the ICC. The hon. Gentleman will know that, as a state party to the Geneva convention, the Israeli Government are obliged to take action against Israeli nationals accused of grave breaches of international humanitarian law, were there to be any, so that would not be a matter for the ICC.