In the Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday, CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell MP underlined the “extremely complex land ownership issues” in the West Bank, highlighting the agreement signed by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators after the Oslo Accords in which they split the territory into Areas A, B and C.
Following the 1993 Accords, the so-called “Oslo generation” of Palestinian youth should have been primed for peace by the Palestinian leadership, but Mr Howell expressed his concern that “it is that generation that has participated in the stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks during the recent waves of terrorism” against Israelis.
The MP for Henley underlined that “the institutionalised radicalisation behind those attacks is perhaps the most significant obstacle to a lasting peace in the generations to come”.
He said that any reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah “must include the demilitarisation of the Hamas terror group”, and emphasised that “the Palestinian Authority must deliver on their commitment to end incitement and hate education, as they agreed to in the Oslo Accords”.
If these obstacles can be overcome, Mr Howell asserted, the final-status issues of borders, the status of Jerusalem, settlements, security, and Palestinian sovereignty “can finally be negotiated in direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians”.
Conservative MP John Lamont reflected on his visit to Israel and the West Bank with CFI last year, stating that “it is only possible to properly understand the challenges of the conflict by visiting there oneself”.
He described the “great gulf between Gaza and the West Bank, not only geographically but ideologically”, and highlighted that “Hamas continues to publicly condemn dialogue with Israel and remains committed to its destruction”.
The MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk made clear: “Hamas and Fatah still cannot agree on the final terms of an Egypt-brokered reconciliation deal, and until Hamas renounces violence and disarms, it can be no partner for peace with Israel”.
Mr Lamont said that we “have a duty not to exacerbate tensions between both sides by failing to comprehend vital aspects of the conflict”, concluding that “ultimately, we all want to see a two-state solution giving sovereignty to the Palestinians and safety and security to Israel” and that we should seize the “opportunity to encourage both sides to return to the negotiating table”.
Middle East Minister Alistair Burt responded to the debate, stating that “the British Government is committed to making progress on a two-state solution” and is clear “this can only be achieved through a negotiated agreement that leads to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state”.
He added that the Government has been clear that “settlements and demolitions are far from being the only problem in the conflict”, and that “terrorism and incitement undermine the prospects of a two-state solution”.
Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP said that “we deplore all forms of incitement, including comments that would stir up hatred and prejudice”, and underlined the importance of the “promotion of peaceful coexistence projects” between Israelis and Palestinians.