The British Government’s current position on Israel and Palestine

Written Questions and Answers that can be found in Hansard ((the Official Report) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.)

These are government answers to recent Parliamentary written Questions

The Israeli Occupation of Palestine

Q:Asked by Lord Judd Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Occupied Territories: USA – HL7620

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of the United States on the decision no longer to refer to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” in the United States State Department’s report, Israel and the Golan Heights 2017 Human Rights Report, published on 20 April, for the first time since the State Department began to issue Human Rights Reports in 1999; what is their assessment of the implications of this change for international law and United States policy; and whether they will re-affirm their own position on those territories and on Gaza.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

While we have not raised this specific issue with the US, the UK position remains clear. We consider that the level of control that Israel retains over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza amounts to occupation under international law, Hence Israel’s presence is governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a state party. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and we continue to call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

Forced Eviction

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 15 May 2018, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Jerusalem: Palestinians, HL7920

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to protect Palestinians who are living in East Jerusalem from forcible eviction from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 30 May 2018

The British Government supports Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem facing demolition or eviction through our funding to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) legal aid programme. This helps residents to challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system. Of those cases provided with legal representation through British NRC, 97% have resulted in suspension of demolitions and evictions, allowing Palestinians to remain in their homes. We regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem, both bilaterally and in co-operation with EU partners. These concerns include the evictions of Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property; the construction of illegal Israeli settlements; the removal of residency rights from Palestinians; possible unilateral changes to the municipal borders; and the severe difficulties of access to Jerusalem for Palestinians from the West Bank, or for those residents of Jerusalem who live beyond the Separation Barrier.

Israeli settlement building

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israeli Settlements HL7664

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about the work started on new settlement homes for former members of the Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

We regularly raise our concerns on the issue of settlements with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 01 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israeli Settlements HL7485

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning Israel’s Settlements Regularisation Law and the test case to be held before the Israeli Supreme Court on 3 June; and what assessment they have made of the letter from Lawyers for Human Rights to the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 17 May 2018

​As the UK made clear in our statement of 7 February 2017 we condemn the passing of the Land Regularisation Law by the Knesset. This damages Israel’s standing with its international partners. This law paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution. I received the letter from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) outlining their concerns. I replied to the LPHR on this issue on 11 May.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 01 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israeli Settlements HL7487

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel, and what public statements they have made to international fora, concerning the legality of both settlements and outposts in international law, and Israel’s obligations regarding settlement activity as set out in UN Security Resolution 2334.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 16 May 2018

The UK’s position on settlements and settlement outposts is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. That is why we supported UN Security Council Resolution 2334. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel, and reiterate our strong opposition to settlement activity in international fora. At the UN Security Council in February we called on Israel to immediately reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

Q: Asked by Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) [N] Asked on: 02 May 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Israeli Settlements: UN Resolutions 140563

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted in December 2016, what steps his Department has taken to distinguish in the UK’s relevant dealings between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 09 May 2018

The UK’s Policy is to support a two-state solution: a secure Israel living side by side a viable and contiguous Palestinian state which is why we voted for UN Security Council Resolution 2334. The UK’s dealings with the state of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories reflect this policy.

 

Abuse of Palestinian children

Q: Asked by Lord Judd Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians HL7619

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the United States State Department’s report, Israel and the Golan Heights 2017 Human Rights Report, published on 20 April, in particular (1) its reference to the conclusion of the UNICEF Report of 2013 that “the maltreatment of Palestinian children appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised”, and (2) its reference to the findings of the Military Court Watch, based on 400 testimonies collected since 2013, that 90 per cent of children continue to be denied access to a lawyer prior to questioning; and what representations they intend to make to the government of Israel on those issues.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law and obligations. We have offered to help the Israeli authorities through expert-to-expert talks with British officials. That offer still stands. While we recognise that Israel has made some improvements, it needs to do much more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care. Most recently I raised the issue of children in detention with Israeli Justice Minister Shaked during my trip to the region in April 2018.

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians HL7661

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israelregarding the imprisonment of Palestinian minors as young as 12.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

I raised concerns over the treatment of Palestinian minors in detention with the Israeli Justice Minister during my visit on 11 April. The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law.

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israa Jaabees HL7662

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel regarding the imprisonment of Israa Jaabees and allowing her to receive necessary medical attention.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

We have not raised this specific issue with the Israeli authorities. We continue to urge the Israeli authorities to ensure that prisoners are provided with the necessary health care and other provisions that they require in line with international obligations.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians HL7661

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israelregarding the imprisonment of Palestinian minors as young as 12.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

I raised concerns over the treatment of Palestinian minors in detention with the Israeli Justice Minister during my visit on 11 April. The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 05 March 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Salah Hamouri HL6077

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel in regard to the extended detention without trial of the Palestinian–French lawyer Salah Hamouri.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 15 March 2018

While we have not discussed this specific issue with the Israeli authorities, we remain concerned about Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention. According to international law, administrative detention should be used only when absolutely necessary for security purposes rather than as routine practice, and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and to either charge or release detainees.

 

Q:

Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 16 April 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Ameer As’ad HL6954

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel regarding the prison conditions experienced by wheelchair user Ameer As’ad who is on hunger strike in order to be provided with an accessible toilet in Israeli prison.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Answered on: 30 April 2018

​Whilst we have not raised this specific issue, we urge the Israeli authorities to ensure that prisoners are provided with the necessary health care and other provisions that they require in line with international obligations.

 

Gaza

Q: Asked by Lord Judd Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Occupied Territories: USA HL7620

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of the United States on the decision no longer to refer to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” in the United States State Department’s report, Israel and the Golan Heights 2017 Human Rights Report, published on 20 April, for the first time since the State Department began to issue Human Rights Reports in 1999; what is their assessment of the implications of this change for international law and United States policy; and whether they will re-affirm their own position on those territories and on Gaza.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

While we have not raised this specific issue with the US, the UK position remains clear. We consider that the level of control that Israel retains over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza amounts to occupation under international law, Hence Israel’s presence is governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a state party. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and we continue to call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

 

Q: Asked by Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) Asked on: 15 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians 144400

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will seek urgently the establishment of a UN-led investigation in to the recent actions of the Israeli Government towards protesters in Palestine.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 22 May 2018

As our Ambassador to the UN said at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on 15 May, we “want to reiterate our support for independent and transparent investigations into the events that have taken place in Gaza on 14 May and in recent weeks”. This includes the extent to which the Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement are in line with international law and what role Hamas played in events. The UK will judge any proposal for an investigation on its merits.

 

Q: Asked by Thelma Walker (Colne Valley) [N] Asked on: 17 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians 145398

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government condemned the violence used by Israeli forces on protesters at the Gaza-Israel border at the recent UN Security Council meeting.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 22 May 2018

At the UN Security Council Meeting in question, the UK Permanent Representative urged Israel to ensure that its security forces did not resort to the use of excessive force, and noted the urgent need to establish why such a volume of live fire continued to be deemed justified.

 

Q: Asked by Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) [N] Asked on: 15 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians 144213

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 21 May 2018

The Foreign Secretary discussed the use of live ammunition against protestors in Gaza with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on 16 May. I also raised concerns regarding this issue with my Israeli counterpart on 13 May and with the Israeli ambassador to the UK on 17 May. As I said in my statement of 14 May, we continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint in its use of live fire.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 16 April 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Gaza: Israel – HL6951

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take following reports that members of the press in Gaza were either targeted by Israeli snipers or that shooting was indiscriminate, during recent protests.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon  Answered on: 01 May 2018

We are aware of reports that the Israeli Defense Forces shot two journalists identified as Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hassin, who were wearing PRESS identification. We continue to urge Israel to show restraint and the Palestinian leadership to ensure the protests are peaceful. Given the importance of accountability, we are supportive of an independent and transparent investigation. We therefore welcome Israel’s commitment to investigate the conduct of operations, and would urge that its findings be made public and if wrongdoing is found, that those responsible be held to account.

 

Gaza Health Services

Q: Asked by The Lord Bishop of Southwark Asked on: 16 May 2018 Department for International Development

Gaza: Health Services HL7951

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Israel about the scale of acute and long-term medical care available to those injured in the protests at the border with Gaza between 30 March and 14 May, including the provision of increased resources in Gaza and access to facilities on the West Bank and in Israel.

A: Answered by: Lord Bates Answered on: 24 May 2018

The UK maintains regular contact with the Israeli authorities, and we most recently raised our concerns about the situation in Gaza with the office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) last week. UK officials expressed concern about the health system in Gaza, and reiterated the importance of unimpeded access and protection for humanitarian goods and personnel. Officials also urged COGAT to allow fuel to enter through the Kerem Shalom crossing and to approve medical permits for the injured.

 

Q: Asked by Dr David Drew (Stroud) [N] Asked on: 26 April 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office -Israel: Palestinians 138358

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterpart in Israel on allowing medical supplies from (a) Israel and (b) elsewhere to be delivered to Gaza.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 01 May 2018

Our Ambassador to Israel most recently raised medical permits and the importance of protestors receiving medical treatment with the Israeli authorities on 24 April. The UK supports the UN Access Coordination Unit, which works with the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian goods including some medical equipment and supplies, into Gaza.

 

Q: Asked by Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) [N] Asked on: 15 May 2018

Department for International Development – Palestinians: Health Services144156

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what funding her Department is providing to agencies in Palestine to help with medical aid.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 21 May 2018

The UK is working closely with our international partners to monitor the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and ensure a coordinated and effective response to urgent medical needs. The UK provides clean water and rehabilitates sanitation facilities to stop the spread of disease for up to 1 million Gazans through the United Nations Children’s Fund. UK financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority helps to pay the salaries of vetted health public servants in the West Bank. Last year this support provided up to 3,700 immunisations for children and around 185,000 medical consultations. In addition, the UK is a long-term supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides basic services, including basic healthcare, to over 800,000 Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and 1.3 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza. I am reviewing how the UK can best support the health system in Gaza at this time. I will keep the House informed of my decision.

 

Gaza  and West Bank Trade

Q: Asked by Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) [N] Asked on: 01 May 2018 Department for International Development

Palestinians: Trade 140143

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the potential humanitarian effect of ending restrictions on trade between Gaza and the West Bank by building a secure route through Israel.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 08 May 2018

It is clear that if restrictions on trade, movement and access between the West Bank and Gaza were eased via creation of a secure route between the two through Israel, humanitarian goods and personnel would be able to reach the intended beneficiaries in a more timely and cost-effective manner. Easing trade restrictions would help to ensure that humanitarian relief reaches those in need, helping to save lives and reduce suffering. More broadly, the benefits of increased trade flow would enhance Gaza’s economy, and relieve the humanitarian situation by lifting the overall standard of living. An analysis by the World Bank shows that lifting restrictions on Gaza could lead to additional cumulative growth of approximately 32% by 2025. We continue to press Israel to ease restrictions on trade, movement and access in line with their legitimate security concerns, and urge Hamas to renounce violence and move towards the quartet principles; the UK is committed to the unimpeded movement of humanitarian goods and personnel.

 

Q: Asked by Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) [N] Asked on: 01 May 2018

Department for International Development – Gaza: Borders140144

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the potential humanitarian effect of expanding the capacity of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing between Gaza and Israel.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 08 May 2018

Humanitarian agencies currently have to devote considerable time, resource, and effort to coordinating the passage of humanitarian goods and personnel through crossings between Israel and Gaza. Kerem Shalom is the only crossing for goods to enter and exit Gaza via Israel. In 2017 an average of 218 trucks a month were leaving Gaza into Israel, compared to a monthly average of 961 trucks between January and July in 2007. This severely constrains the economic development of Gaza, which contributes to the dire humanitarian situation. By operating Kerem Shalom at capacity, humanitarian and essential goods would be able to reach the intended beneficiaries in a more timely and cost-effective manner. This would expedite the delivery of humanitarian relief to those in need, helping to save lives and reduce suffering. The UK regularly raises the need to ease trade, movement and access restrictions with the Government of Israel, in line with their legitimate security concerns, and urges Egypt reopen the Rafah crossing.

 

British Arms sales to Israel

Q: Asked by Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) Asked on: 15 May 2018 Department for International Trade

Exports: Arms Trade 144399

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will rescind all export licences allowing the export of arms to Israel.

A: Answered by: Graham Stuart Answered on: 23 May 2018

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world.

Export licence applications for all countries, including Israel, are assessed carefully against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. We will not grant a licence if to do so would be inconsistent with these Consolidated Criteria.

We are keeping the situation in Israel and Gaza under close review and consider the latest circumstances when assessing licence applications. The Government will not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that exports might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Extant licences will be revoked if the exports are no longer consistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

 

Q: Asked by Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) [N] Asked on: 30 April 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Occupied Territories: Arms Trade139364

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government of Israel has given undertakings to the UK Government on limits on the use in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of arms and arms components imported from the UK.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt Answered on: 03 May 2018

​The Government takes its defence exports responsibilities extremely seriously and operates some of the most robust export controls in the world. We only approve equipment which is for Israel’s legitimate self-defence and when we are satisfied that it would be consistent with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and other relevant commitments. All applications for export licences are assessed on a case-by-case basis against strict criteria. We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.

 

Q: Asked by Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) [N] Asked on: 30 April 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office -Israel: Peacekeeping Operations139365

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he is investigating the use by the Israeli Government of armoured vehicles, assault rifles, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles and components for sniper rifles exported from UK to Israel.

A: Answered by: Alistair Burt

Answered on: 03 May 2018

​The UK has exported a number of military-listed items to Israel over the last 12 months. UK arms exports are subject to export controls and all decisions to approve export licences to Israel are considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (Consolidated Criteria). Decisions are based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available, including reports from our overseas network and military contacts. The Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require consideration of the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities. We do not issue export licences where we assess there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict. We keep the situation in Israel under continued review. We do not collect data on the use of equipment after sale.

 

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 08 May 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

USA: Israel HL7663

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to discuss the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem with the President of the United States when he visits the UK in July.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

We look forward to the working visit by President Trump in July. It will be a timely opportunity for bilateral discussions between the President and the Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister made clear in her statement of 6 December 2017, we disagree with the US’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful to prospects for peace in the region.

The Bedouin Community in the West Bank

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge, Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 29 May 2018, cW)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to protect the remaining Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley from the threat of displacement.

A: Answered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

The UK is gravely concerned by Israeli proposals to evict Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley. We have been clear about this with the Israeli authorities and we regularly raise the matter through our Embassy in Tel Aviv. I visited the Bedouin community in Abu Nuwar on 10 April, and subsequently raised concerns about their treatment in meetings with Israeli Ministers and senior officials on 11 April.

Freedom of Religion

Q: Asked by Baroness Tonge Asked on: 15 May 2018, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Israel: Palestinians, HL7921

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to prevent violations of Palestinian holy sites by Israeli forces and settlers in territory occupied by Israel.

A: Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Answered on: 30 May 2018

The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, including freedom of religion, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Israel on the implementation of its obligations under international law and regularly and robustly raise our serious concerns on issues related to Israeli actions in the OPTs.