I very much share people's concerns about annexation in the West Bank and more broadly this is an area I am very interested in. I am a member of the Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group and feel very strongly that Palestinian rights and freedoms must be respected as we search for a viable two-state solution that can stand the test of time.
I raised this topic in Parliament earlier this year when the US-led Israel-Palestine peace plan was announced, as I feel very worried about future annexation under the guise of the plan. I have copied the transcript of that exchange below so you can see the then-Minister’s response:
Flick Drummond: I welcome the prospect of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and note that the Palestinians are involved almost immediately. Will the Minister confirm that the UK Government’s position remains that all existing and future Israeli settlements in occupied territories are illegal under international law?
Andrew Murrison: Annexation is clearly illegal. We continue to use every means available to ensure either that it does not happen or, if it does, that there is an appropriate international response. We uphold international law, and the law is perfectly clear.
At the same time, I also wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary making clear my concerns about the proposed peace plan. While peace plans are clearly a move in the right direction, that particular plan can only represent a first step in those discussions. I believe there would need to be a lot more balance towards the Palestinians before it became viable in the long term.
I have also facilitated a virtual event in Parliament for Conservative MPs with a British Jewish Group called Yachad, who are opposed to annexation. This was designed to raise awareness of this issue among our MPs and also to highlight the risks – not just to the Palestinians but also to Israel’s own long-term security – that annexation poses.
There has to 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 refugees.
The Government consistently calls for an immediate end to all actions – including annexation – that undermine the viability of the two-state solution and has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the 1967 borders, including most recently at the UN Security Council.
I am glad that this is the Government’s position and I will continue to raise this topic with colleagues to ensure that this remains the case.