I should start by explaining that I do not sign Early Day Motions. For one, this is because they are not part of our formal legislature and are rarely debated in the House. From my experience, I have found that raising issues with Ministers directly is far more effective. Secondly, as I have recently been made a Parliamentary Private Secretary, I am unable to sign EDM's by convention.
With that in mind, I am sure you will be pleased to learn that EDM 225 is in line with the Government’s policy on settlements and I firmly support the UK and our Government’s long-standing position on the Middle East.
There should be a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a fair and realistic settlement for any individual from either side of the debate who loses their home as a result.
The UK’s position has not changed, including towards the West Bank and the 1967 borders. I am glad that the UK repeatedly reaffirms this commitment, including most recently at the UN Security Council, and will continue to do so.
The UK Government consistently calls for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including the expansion of settlements by the Israeli government alongside the widely reported incitement of hatred in Palestinian children through their curriculum, which the Government has commissioned a report on with the Georg Eckert Institute.
I should mention that I remain concerned that the lack of dialogue and willingness to work together between Hamas (Gaza’s governing body) and Fattah (the West Bank’s governing body) presents a serious barrier to a peaceful solution in the region. The Palestinian people deserve robust and forward-looking leadership that can advocate on their behalf and reach a suitable agreement with Israel instead of leadership that is consumed by in-fighting. The absence of dialogue creates a vacuum that only fuels instability and leads to the drifting of the two sides further and further apart. However, the recent cooperation we have seen between Israelis and Palestinians in coordinating their response to the COVID-19 is commendable and demonstrates that positive engagement is possible.
I am, of course, concerned about reports of a possible annexation by Israel. A unilateral move such as this would undoubtedly be damaging to the renewed efforts to restart peace negotiations. No changes to the status quo can be made without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves and I join my colleagues in Government in calling for a meaningful return to negotiations by all concerned parties, including a swift resolution between Fatah and Hamas.