Thank you for contacting me about evictions and demolitions in the West Bank. I have written extensively about this topic in the past, and feel passionately about ending violence in the region.
I was appalled by the horrifying violence and heart-breaking loss of life we saw across Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel last May. I utterly condemn the attacks that have endangered civilian lives and resulted in Palestinian and Israeli casualties, including the heart-breaking loss of many children.
I am a firm supporter of Palestinian rights and an advocate for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. The situation facing many Palestinians is dire and there are, unfortunately, huge barriers to achieving peace.
I share your concern about the demolition of homes and vital social infrastructure by Israeli Government authorities in the West Bank. 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. Demolitions and confiscations contravene international humanitarian law and undermine social stability and security.
I recognise that the issue of demolitions is linked to the heavy restrictions on building permits for Palestinians, which make it very difficult to build legally within Area C of the West Bank. I believe the current building permit system is unsustainable and incompatible with the idea of a viable Palestinian state.
I am also concerned by the impact of military firing zones in the West Bank. I am aware of the recent decision by Israel’s supreme court to approve evictions in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank to make way for military firing and training zones. According to the UN, some 1,200 people, including 580 children, are now at imminent risk of forced eviction and displacement. I understand that officials from UN agencies and NGOs, as well as diplomats representing 24 countries, including the UK, visited Masafer Yatta recently.
With our permanent seat on the UN Security Council and our historical role in Israeli-Palestinian affairs, I believe the UK has a moral duty to be proactive on these important issues.
I believe there must be a renewed focus on negotiating a two-state solution that ensures a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. This must include an end to forced evictions of Palestinians, respect for sacred sites and adherence to international law on settlements. For the UK Government’s part, I believe this should include an acceptance of the need to recognise Palestine as a state, as nearly 140 other countries have now done so.