I stand behind the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and believe the UK has an important role in standing up for the rights and freedoms that all human beings are entitled to. Upholding human rights should be at the heart of our foreign policy and I hope the Government will take seriously its responsibility in urging others to respect these rights.
I am concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing. It is clear that the blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services and I agree that these restrictions should be eased.
As you are aware, the UK supported the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in December, which reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal. I remain concerned by the announcement earlier this year of new settlement units in the West Bank, which undermines still further the prospect of a two-state solution to this conflict.
I am opposed to the boycotting of either genuine Israeli or Palestinian goods as I do not believe that such boycotts help to engage or influence either party or will lead to progress in the Middle East peace process. However, I think the situation with respect to goods produced in and by illegal settlements is different, and if there were some way of introducing restrictions on trade in such goods I would probably support it. I do believe that consumers should have clear information about the origin of the produce they are buying so that they can make informed decisions for themselves. I hope the Government will clarify whether it has given consideration as to how settlement goods could be separated from other Israeli goods, and on how it can persuade British companies not to invest in settlement areas.
I believe the only way the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the wider Occupied Palestinian Territories will be resolved is through a negotiated two-state solution – one that recognises the importance of security and stability, and guarantees a viable and secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis.