FCO questions briefing and DfID questions report

18-11-2016 20:44

Source: Palestine Briefing

Knesset votes to retrospectively legalise
settlements built on Palestinian land
Foreign Office questions
Questions Tuesday November 22nd 11.30 am
Question  7: Lucy Allan (Telford): What discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on steps being taken to maintain order in the West Bank.
Question  9: Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire): What recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the announcement by the Prime Minister of Israel of a new settlement at Shiloh in the West Bank in October 2016.
Question  10: Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood): What discussions he has had with the US government on a UN Security Council resolution on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Question  18: Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire): What assessment he has made of the prospects for progress on the Middle East peace process; and what assessment he has made of the effect of recent initiatives by the French government on those prospects.
Jerusalem Mayor threatens demolitions as revenge on Supreme Court
The decision of the Israeli supreme court to order the evacuation of 85 houses in an lllegal outpost by December 25 has started a battle for the soul of Israel.
All settlements are illegal in international law but the hilltop settlement of Anona considered illegal even by the Israelis. The Palestinian farmers who owned the land on which it was built went to court and for once the court found in their favour. 
The response of the Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu was not to force the residents of Anona to move back to Israel, but to announce the building of a new illegal settlement at Shiloh in the West Bank so he can decant the evicted settlers from one illegal settlement into another.
Even this was not enough for the MPs in his right-wing coalition who voted on Wednesday (November 16th) by 58 votes to 50 to pass an emergency law that will retrospectively legalise Anona and all illegal outposts. 
The reaction of the Mayor of Jerusalem showed scant respect for the rule of law: "Unless Amona is legalised, we'll have to destroy hundreds or thousands of houses in Jerusalem too."
In other words he is threatening to demolish thousands of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in an act of revenge against the Israeli Supreme Court. 
International law states clearly that an occupying power "shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".  
Yet in 49 years Israel has transferred 650,000 of its own population into illegal settlements in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  
One MP from the left-wing Meretz party said the Knesset vote "resembles legislation in third-world countries where laws are written retroactively to whitewash their crimes".
Another MP from the mainly Arab Joint List party said: "Whoever wants more proof of the cruelty, immorality and violence of the occupation got it in this bill. It spits in the face of the law and the international community."
The UK government (and all Western governments) have consistently condemned the settlement project as illegal, but have refused to take any effective action even to stop settlement expansion. The EU, as Israel's major trading partner, could easily exert enough pressure. 
The UK now needs to make representations to the Israelis over the announcement of a new illegal settlement at Shiloh (Question 9), to encourage President Obama to use the period between the election and the inauguration to lift the US veto and pass a UN Security Council calling for an end to settlement building and a deadline for peace talks (Question 10), and to support the French peace initiative and back whatever motion they move in the Security Council (Question 18). 
Possible supplementary questions 
Question  7: In order to maintain order in the West Bank does he not think it would be more relevant to call on the
Mayor of Jerusalem to withdraw his threat of mass demolitions of Palestinian homes as an act of revenge against the Supreme Court's order to demolish a settlement?
Question  9: Does the Minister agree that mere verbal representations have not proved effective in persuading the Israeli government to stop settlement building and there is now no alternative to economic disincentives?
Question  10: Will he speak to President Obama and promise UK support in the Security Council for a motion demanding an end to settlement building and setting a timetable for a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict?
Question  18: Will he speak to his French counterpart and offer UK support for his peace initiative and for a French resolution to the UN Security Council? 
Palestine Aid suspension will undermine peaceful politicians and play into hands of Hamas
International Development questions
Questions Wednesday November 16th 11.30 am
  • Mrs Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con) T2. I welcome the work the Secretary of State is doing to ensure that UK aid to the Palestinian Authority does not directly fund payments to terrorist prisoners, but will she assure the House that she is doing everything possible to ensure that they do not indirectly fund such payments by freeing up resources that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day PA activities? 
    The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Rory Stewart) We have made it clear that our focus will be very much targeted on health, education and co-existence projects. We ensure that any support going in is carefully vetted, with an independent auditor; is directed to what will provide value for money; and, above all, will benefit the Palestinian people.

    Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP)
     T5. Further to an earlier question, will the Minister commit to fast-track the review of aid for the families of Palestinian prisoners, in the knowledge that any reduction in that aid will bankrupt the Palestinian Authority, undermine politicians who are working for a peaceful solution and play into the hands of those, like Hamas, who want to pursue a course of violence? 
    Rory Stewart The Department remains entirely committed to the following principles. First, anything we do must encourage a two-state solution by ensuring that the Palestinian people are served with proper services. Secondly, we must make sure that the money goes in the right way to the right people. That is all about auditing, vetting and making sure that the real beneficiaries are there. Of course we will ensure that the review is done as efficiently as possible to serve the interests of the Palestinian people and the stability of the region.

Topics : #French Peace Initiative #Israel #Palestine #UK #Settlements

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