Conservative MPs underlined the opportunity for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and condemned the Palestinian leadership’s intransigence, in a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on the subject of settlements.
Speaking about the aspirations of the Oslo Accords not being realised, CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Commons) Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP asserted that according to numerous accounts, including former US President Bill Clinton’s, “it wasn’t the Israelis that walked away from” the opportunity of peace.
Mr Crabb described the “intransigence and the refusal to engage on the part of the Palestinian leadership” as a “huge roadblock towards progress in the region”. He urged leaders to “sit down and talk”.
He added: “I have seen all the roadblocks and the impediment that they create to economic opportunity. It is bad in the West Bank, and it even worse in Gaza, but there is a reason why those roadblocks are there: they minimise the threat of violence and death for Jewish Israeli citizens… It requires our Government to put more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to root out the school textbooks that glorify violence and incite hatred, to abandon the language of conflict and confrontation and to seize opportunities for peace”.
In his speech, Bury South MP Christian Wakeford welcomed recent developments towards peace in the region between Israel and Gulf Arab states. He asked the Middle East Minister , now that “annexation is off the table, the Palestinians should re-engage with Israel on finance and security co-operation as a confidence-building measure?”
He additionally asked: “Does he agree that until the Palestinian leadership embraces co-existence with Israel and stops teaching Palestinian children that Israel’s presence is temporary, the prospects for peace remain bleak?”
In response to calls for UK Government to recognise Palestine, Conservative MP for High Peak, Rob Largan, asked which government should be recognised – the Palestinian Authority which spends “40% of foreign aid on salaries to terrorists and families”, or Hamas which is “openly committed to genocide of Jewish people”.
CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell OBE MP said in his speech: “It is my great hope that these peace agreements between Israel and her neighbours… will offer a new and overdue route to a lasting two-state solution”.
Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith, applauded “the vision and bravery of the UAE and Bahrain in choosing a future of peace and reconciliation” with Israel. He said: “It is for this reason that I have greater hope for the possibility of a two-state solution”.
Conservative MP Damien Moore pointed out that “Israel has a history of removing settlements in the interest of peace”, adding “had settlements been the main cause of violence, one would have expected it to decrease following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of settlers from all settlements in Gaza in 2005. On the contrary, Palestinian violence has intensified and tens of thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired into Israeli communities in the last 15 years”.
Concluding the debate, Middle East Minister James Cleverly emphasised “there is an opportunity now” for peace. He said: “We have encouraged the Palestinian Authority to engage with Israel, with the USA, with its Arab neighbours and friends, with the UK to put an offer on the table”.
On the issue of incitement in Palestinian textbooks, Mr Cleverly said: “The former Secretary of State for International Development, my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, raised this issue with the Palestinian Authority’s Education Minister on her very first phone call in post. The Foreign Secretary also raised it with the Palestinian Prime Minister and the Education Minister on his recent visit to the OPTs. We have pressed the EU to publish its interim report on Palestinian textbooks. We want it to be addressed at pace and transparently”.