Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions Tuesday April 12th 11.30 am
Conservative MP David Mowat said the Israeli government was “showing complete contempt for the notion of a two-state solution” by accelerating the rate of demolitions and evictions of Palestinians since the start of this year.
According to the UN there had been 446 demolitions in the West Bank by April 4th compared with 447 in the whole of last year, so the rate of demolitions had quadrupled.
Given that 120 of the demolished buildings were funded by EU or other donors, Labour MP Richard Burdenasked the Minister how he was going to claim compensation from Israel.
David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): In 2016, there has been an acceleration of evictions and property destruction on the West Bank. By these continuing actions, the Israeli Government are showing complete contempt for the notion of a two-state solution—a fact recognised by President Carter. When will the Government update UK policy to reflect reality on the ground in this area?
Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood: During my meetings with the Deputy Foreign Minister and indeed with the Prime Minister, I found that they remained committed to the two-state solution, but he is right to recognise that measures are being taken and events are taking place that seem to take us in another direction. We need to ensure that people are able to come back to the table, and that we are able to make progress. There is no other solution to this. We cannot continue with the status quo.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): The Minister will know that Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes and other structures at three times the rate at which it did so last year. Given that a number of these structures are EU-supported and EU-funded, what are the Government going to do not simply to express concern but to hold Israel to account? What mechanisms are available to do so?
[The Minister did not reply, but the UN estimates 120 donor-funded buildings have been demolished by the Israeli Army so far this year and aid minister Baroness Verma said in a written answer in the Lords on March 12: “The EU is proposing to reassess their position on seeking compensation from the Israeli Government….. The UK government remains extremely concerned by reports that there have been nearly 300 demolitions since the start of 2016, representing more than a trebling of demolitions compared to the monthly average in 2015. The Embassy in Tel Aviv have recently raised demolitions with the Israeli authorities and will continue to raise this at the political level.”]
Mr Ellwood: He highlights a challenge that we face. Britain has been working closely with Israel to change the approach that Israelis have taken on administrative detention. We have also funded and facilitated independent reports on the challenges that we face, and I raised this matter with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely. I will continue to press Israel to move forward. Again, this takes us back—it is a retrograde step.
Early day motion 1245
DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES BY ISRAEL
- Session: 2015-16
- Date tabled: 14.03.2016
- Primary sponsor: Duncan, Alan
That this House condemns the major escalation in demolitions by the Israeli government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
notes that 293 structural demolitions have taken place in the first six weeks of 2016, including numerous homes; expresses concern for the devastating effects such demolitions have on innocent civilians;
further notes that in 2015, 447 Palestinian structures were demolished; notes that, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between 2010 and 2014 only 1.5 per cent of the over 2,000 Palestinian building permit requests were approved in Area C of the West Bank, leading to 10,000 present standing demolition orders;
notes Israel’s continued uses of demolition as a means of collectively punishing Palestinians; welcomes the EU’s continued opposition to Israel’s illegal settlements, home demolitions, confiscation and evictions;
notes that the home demolitions have included EU-funded structures; calls on the Government to condemn these latest demolitions and the continued expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and demands reparations for the destruction.