As a longstanding campaigner for the right of Palestinians’ to self-determination as part of a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, I have deep concerns about the action by settler organisations to seek to expropriate Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. The end-point of this action is de facto annexation, with the territory for an independent Palestinian state rendered unviable.
The particular case of the Sumarin family was brought to my attention earlier this year. The Sumarin family own the property and have lived there for over 50 years. Since the early 1990s settler organizations, namely the Jewish National Fund and the Elad Foundation, have sought to seize the family’s home under a tendentious interpretation of the Absentees’ Property Law of 1950. This action has caused widespread controversy within Israel, with many Israelis objecting to the state supporting settler organisations’ seizure of occupied land. So far, however, the Israeli courts and Israeli government have allowed the action to proceed.
I wrote with my fellow Sheffield Labour MPs to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to express our concerns. Last month the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, send the following letter on behalf of Mr Raab:
While the Government’s stated commitment to a two-state solution and opposition to annexation is welcome, I feel that the lack of concrete action renders these statements hollow. Therefore I have sent the following letter back to challenge the Government to toughen its position and take meaningful action to protect human rights and uphold international law: