The Minister said: “I strongly condemn Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem which killed four Israeli soldiers. I understand the deep frustration on all sides at the lack of progress on the Middle East peace process but there can be absolutely no justification for terrorism”.
Mr Ellwood’s comments came in response to a written question from Conservative MP for North Warwickshire, Craig Tracey, who asked “what assessment he has made of (a) trends in the level and (b) the causes of recent violence in Israel and the West Bank”.
Minister Ellwood has previously condemned the attack that left four dead and 17 injured as “horrific”, and said that his “thoughts are with the victims and their families”.
On Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist rammed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four and injuring at least 17. The terrorist accelerated as he hit the group, then put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time. The driver was killed after a number of soldiers opened fire on the vehicle.
Hamas praised the terror attack as “heroic”, and reportedly held a rally in Gaza celebrating the attack. There have also been reports that Palestinians handed out sweets celebrating the attack in the West Bank and Gaza.
In Foreign Office questions yesterday, the Foreign Secretary, Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, underlined that there “can be no lasting solution for that part of the world unless there is better leadership of the Palestinians and unless they renounce terror”.
CFI Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP expressed his “disappointment that the Palestinian authorities did not issue a prompt condemnation of the murder of Israeli soldiers over the weekend”, and asked the Foreign Secretary if he believes that “the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of violence, refusal to recognise Israel and refusal to meet face to face is one of the major obstacles to a two-state solution”?
The Foreign Secretary said that Sir Eric’s point was “absolutely true”, and condemned the “appalling murder of four Israeli soldiers at the weekend”.
UNSC Resolution 2334, which was passed last month, was discussed by a number of parliamentarians, including former Northern Ireland Secretary Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, who expressed her “grave concerns about resolution 2334, which [her] constituents believe will make peace in the Middle East harder to achieve by imposing a complex set of preconditions that the Palestinians will use to avoid serious engagement in negotiation”.
The Foreign Secretary emphasised that the UK Government supported the Resolution “only because it contained new language pointing out the infamy of terrorism that Israel suffers every day, not least on Sunday, when there was an attack in Jerusalem”.
Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden asked the Foreign Secretary: “Many of my constituents are concerned that the recent UN vote marks a change in the British Government’s stance towards Israel. Will the Foreign Secretary confirm that that is not the case, and that we remain steadfast allies of that beacon of liberalism and democracy in the Middle East?”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson replied stating: “As is well known, the state of Israel is just about the only democracy in that part of the world. It is a free and liberal society, unlike many others in the region. I passionately support the state of Israel. It was very important that, in resolution 2334, the UK Government not only stuck by 30-year-old UK policy in respect of settlements, but underscored our horror of violence against the people of Israel”.
CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell OBE MP asked the Foreign Secretary: “In looking at the steps to promote peace talks, what effect does the Foreign Secretary think the current level of Palestinian violence is going to have on that process?”
Foreign Secretary Johnson said: “It is important… that we encourage the Palestinians to understand that there can be no hope of peace unless they get their extremists under control”.
Click here to read the full exchange.