Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions
Questions Tuesday February 23rd 11.30 am
Middle East minister Toby Ellwood admitted at Foreign Office questions last week that the West Bank, already in danger of being divided into two by the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem, is now in danger of being divided into three by the Ariel ‘finger’ – a narrow corridor of settlements that may one reach through from Israel to the Jordan Valley – which will mean “that there will be no two-state solution”.
But when asked by Clive Lewis MP what we was doing about the announcements by Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu that he is building yet more illegal settlements, he could only say that he “made it very clear on the record that that is unhelpful”.
Clive Lewis (Norwich South) (Lab): (right) What assessment he has made of the effect of the outcome of the March 2015 election in Israel on the peace process in that region.Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood: Much gets said, as we know, during election cycles, and we were concerned by some of the statements that were made during the Israeli election. I was in Israel last week, and I can confirm that I had meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He has made it very clear that he remains committed to the two-state solution.
Clive Lewis: It is more than 20 years since Oslo. There are now more than 350,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and 300,000 illegal Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, and the Netanyahu Government continue to announce the building of more illegal settlements. Does the Minister believe that that will aid the peace process? If not, what is he doing about it?Mr Ellwood: The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and I have made it very clear on the record that that is unhelpful and takes us in the wrong direction. During my visit last week, I visited some of the settlements that are developing. Although announcements of new settlements have slowed, the existing settlements are starting to grow, and that happens without people seeing it. There is an area to the north of Jerusalem called the Ariel finger, which, if it continues to grow as it is doing, will eventually link up towards the north of Jericho. That will essentially mean that there will be no two-state solution. We need Israel to show that it is committed to the process and stop the settlements.