Situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories Debate

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Department: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Lord Hannay of Chiswick Excerpts
Tuesday 30th January 2024

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Hannay of Chiswick Portrait Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB)
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My Lords, does the Minister accept that there was a very warm reaction to the reports of what the Foreign Secretary said to the Conservative Middle East Council dinner? Does this not show that the old approach to a two-state solution—whereby Palestine is recognised as a state and Israel is fully recognised by the Arabs at the end of the process—is not going to work? This is a very difficult issue. What is probably needed is a process which, from the start, makes it clear that Arab participants should recognise Israel and that all of us, including Israel, should recognise Palestine as a state. This is the only viable outcome.

Do the Government share the view of the US Secretary of State, who said that UNRWA’s ability to provide and distribute various forms of aid in Gaza was “absolutely indispensable”? This is surely covered by the ruling of the International Court of Justice that all must do their best to increase the flow of aid into Gaza—including UNRWA, even though what some of its employees have been accused of is quite horrible and must be punished following an inquiry.

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The noble Lord understands more than any of us how sensitive this time and the surrounding negotiations are. It is absolutely clear that Gaza and the West Bank are occupied Palestinian territory and will be part of a future Palestinian state. We support a two-state solution that guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people. Recently, I read a most interesting quote from former Mossad director, Meir Dagan. Commenting on the two-state solution, he said:

“We have no other way. Not because the Palestinians are my top priority but because I am concerned about Israel’s well-being and I want to do what I can to ensure Israel’s existence.”

That shows a real depth of understanding of the importance of working towards that conclusion.

On the noble Lord’s point about UNRWA, we are not alone in having paused our financial support for UNRWA. The United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all temporarily paused funding. I gave a list of other organisations that we are using. The noble Lord is absolutely right that UNRWA has the facilities on the ground and many thousands of people working in and around Gaza who have the ability to get food, fuel and all other humanitarian items to the people of Gaza. We want to be back working with it when this inquiry has worked out who precisely was involved in the attacks to get back international confidence in it as an organisation to deliver aid.