Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem

I am a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Palestine and follow events there closely. I have also visited the West Bank so I am aware of some of the issues on the ground. We must work hard to make sure that both Israel and Palestine can exist together in peace.

I share your concern at the violent escalations we have witnessed recently. The UK Government is urging all parties to de-escalate, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have made it clear that this cycle of violence must stop, and every effort must be made to avoid loss of life. The rockets coming out of Gaza are wrong, futile and harm the Palestinian cause – they will not change Israeli policy, merely entrench it and Israel has every right to defend itself. My thoughts are with all those affected, especially the families of those killed on both sides. There is no need for a rise in anti-semitism in this country which it totally unacceptable.

The UK Government is clear that evictions of Palestinians from their homes causes unnecessary suffering and we call for the removal of the illegal settlements which are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. As you are aware, the forcible transfer of an occupied population is a grave violation of UNSCR242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, as is the transfer of an occupier’s population into occupied territory, which includes East Jerusalem. All this occurs in the context of Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and internationally condemned practices that include the forcible transfer of Palestinian families and settlement expansion throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.   I continually bring this up with Ministers.

The Court has suspended the decision on the Sheikh Jarrah families for the moment.  I am in favour of a moratorium on evictions for Palestinians based on discriminatory law and believe that Israel must stop applying such discriminatory laws. The UN Secretary-General recommends that Israel reviews the application of planning laws and policies to ensure that they are in accordance with Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv has raised this issue with the Israeli Authorities, as has the Minister of State, James Cleverly, with the Israeli Ambassador in London. The British Consul General to Jerusalem visited families at risk of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah on 3 May to reiterate the UK's opposition to the practice.

The UK Government also calls for two state solution and I have asked Ministers to recognise the state of Palestine. It is disappointing that President Abbas postponed elections in Palestine indefinitely. This means missing an important opportunity to put Palestine back on the path towards national reunification and accountable leadership. He is increasing the political fragmentation and authoritarianism that has marked Palestinian politics since the last elections.  At the same time, the sooner the Israeli government is sorted following the inconclusive elections recently, the better.

I will continue to follow this situation closely.