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 Wolfson of Tredegar Excerpts
Tuesday 30th January 2024

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, we have been having discussions about the process which will lead to peace, but we need to start the process. In order to start the process, do we not need to recognise two things? First, the world of 8 October is a fundamentally different world from the world of 6 October. Secondly, Israel is a democracy, unlike Hamas in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. That means that if we are going to be realistic about encouraging Israel to start that process, we need to recognise that, even today, well over 100 of its citizens are still being held hostage. I know the Minister has personally made significant efforts to meet hostage families and to work on that issue. If we are going to start a process to peace in the Middle East, which I would welcome as I have worked on it for as long as I can, we need to face basic political realities. Unless and until those hostages are released, the process will not begin. If we want to see peace in the Middle East after that conflict, the first step must be to get the hostages released. Does my noble friend agree?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I certainly do. That is the first step in a road out of this sorry saga that we all want to see achieved. I cannot imagine—well, I can imagine what it is like for the families, because on two occasions I have met them, and I am due to meet some more this week. Noble Lords can understand the emotion. When you meet them, it is absolutely a searing realisation of the true brutality of those events and the continuous misery for those families, including the parents of a child who is around one year old. You can only imagine what they feel about that.

On my noble friend’s point about democracy, he is absolutely right. As we can see daily in our newspapers, Israel is a vibrant democracy. There are future changes perhaps—we do not know—but we will support whoever is the legitimate Government of Israel to help to find a solution to this. My noble friend is also right that it has been 18 years, I think, since free and fair elections, or elections, have taken place in Gaza. The Hamas controlling body has no democratic authority. We want to make sure that the future of Gaza does not have Hamas anywhere in it.