British MPs unanimously passed a motion to condemn Israeli settlement building on Thursday. The motion also included support for the biased UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and called on the Israeli government to halt all planned settlement activity.
As British MPs debated Israeli settlements as the main barrier to peace, Israel was once again rocked by terrorism; a Palestinian terrorist shot and stabbed six Israeli civilians before being arrested in Petah Tikva.
Despite terrorism (a legitimate barrier to peace) being mentioned in the debate, it was Israeli settlements that took centre stage and Israel shouldered the majority of the blame for the ongoing conflict.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock was one of those who blamed Israeli settlement as the root cause of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He gave various examples of Palestinian children living in hardship because of (in his view) Israel’s actions, before stating, “when we boil all the issues down to their essence… Israeli settlers on land internationally recognised as occupied is what drives this conflict.”
Mr Kinnock also urged the UK to boycott Israeli goods, saying the government should “prohibit trade with companies and financial institutions complicit in the settlements”.
The move to pressure the government to join the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement continued as Helen Goodman MP pushed for the government to “introduce personal sanctions on those people who promote and benefit from the settlements.”
The legality of Israeli settlements was raised by various members of the House. A couple of MPs spoke out to defend Israel’s settlement activities, pointing out that the settlements are “legal” under international law (which is the view the Israeli government takes), the vast majority of MPs, however, argued to the contrary.
— Rushanara Ali (@rushanaraali) February 9, 2017
While settlements were the focus of the day, with UNSCR 2334 closely following, MPs also used the opportunity to raise objection to Israel’s alleged treatment of Palestinians.
Gaza was labelled once more as an “open air prison”, with Israel’s actions being blamed for this. Israeli checkpoints and protective walls were also in line for scrutiny, with very little being said as to the reason they existed, such as to protect Israeli civilians from terrorists.
The argument for helping Palestinians living in poverty was also raised. While there are clearly parts of Gaza and the West Bank that require humanitarian assistance, it is important to understand the cause of this. When the Palestinian Authority give over £300+ million every year to terrorists and families of terrorists, and Hamas syphons off vast sums of humanitarian aid to build networks of terror tunnels and manufacture rockets, there is no wonder there is a humanitarian crisis. Israel’s actions play a much lesser role in this humanitarian crisis than the actions of the Palestinian leaders. It is Hamas and the Palestinian Authority who are responsible for the humanitarian crisis and for keeping their people in a state of poverty.
A few MPs questioned the actions of Israel as “giving an appearance of apartheid”. Richard Burden MP called it a “creeping culture of apartheid”, while Clive Betts MP took this one step further by labelling Israel’s actions at checkpoints as “racist”.
— Joseph Willits (@josephwillits) February 9, 2017
In a similar vein to the “apartheid” comments, Emily Thornberry MP evoked John Kerry by stating that if Israel wanted a “one-state solution” then Israel could “either be Jewish, or it can be democratic… it cannot be both”.
While the majority of the approximately 30 MPs in attendance spoke out against Israel, with some appearing to relish the opportunity to do so, there were a few who stood up and defended the Jewish state.
Speaking against the motion, Conservative MP John Howell said that it was not international criticism of settlements that was needed to bring peace, but direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians without pre-conditions.
He also warned that, when Palestinian elections are held, the Palestinian Authority will be succeeded by “organisations that are in favour of ISIS”, referring to Hamas.
— CFoI (@CFoI) February 9, 2017
Labour MP Ian Austin also condemned the motion, which he called “one-sided” and simplistic.
“It’s not the case that settlements make a two-state solution impossible,” he told the House of Commons. “Does anybody seriously believe that the settlements are a bigger barrier to peace than Hamas’s terrorism and extremism?”
Labour MP Joan Ryan joined her colleague, criticising the motion for not referring to other factors that damage trust between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mrs Ryan said, “I do not believe that trust is built when the Palestinian Authority pumps out an unrelenting stream of anti-Semitic incitement—children’s programmes that teach their young audience to hate Jews; the naming of schools, sports tournaments and streets after so-called martyrs; and the payment of salaries to convicted terrorists—when it is suggested, as Palestinian state media regularly does, that all of Israel is occupied territory; or when the authority continues to insist on a right to return for the descendants of Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israeli territory.”
She also rightly touched on Israel’s trust of the Palestinian Authority as being depleted by “the experience of Gaza, which Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza 12 years ago, only to see it come under the control of Hamas.”
It is important to note that it was Abbas’ Fatah party that controlled the Gaza Strip when Israel handed power over to the Palestinians. Hamas won the elections the following year, taking over the strip and turning it into a terrorist state. Since then Hamas that has launched tens-of-thousands of rockets into Israel and dug vast networks of terror tunnels in order to carry out attacks on the Jewish state. Recent reports also show that Hamas currently lead the polls to win the next election in the so-called West Bank (the land that the Palestinians want Israel to vacate), so it is no wonder why Israel is wary of leaving any time soon.
Slamming UN Security Council resolution 2334, Mike Freer MP stated, “I do not believe that UNSC 2334 helps advance peace” and said the wording, including name Judaisms most holy sites by their Arabic names only (removing their Hebrew and English names), as well as labelling the areas a “occupied” by the Jews, was an “affront to Christians and Jews alike”.
MUST WATCH: Mike Freer MP: "I do not believe that UNSC 2334 helps advance peace", wording on Old City is "affront to Christians&Jews alike" pic.twitter.com/RXHrIVS2pD
— CFoI (@CFoI) February 9, 2017
Bob Blackman MP also spoke out strongly against UNSC resolution 2334, saying that not only was it wrong but that the UK “shouldn’t have supported” it. He praised Theresa May for distancing herself from John Kerry’s disastrous speech against Israeli settlements the day after and also the governments actions at the Paris Peace Summit.
— CFoI (@CFoI) February 9, 2017
At the end of the debate, Tobias Elwood spoke on behalf the government and answered the questions raised.
He started his comments by “firmly underlining” the UK’s “deep friendship with Israel” and reaffirmed once again the government’s support for a two-state solution.
On settlements, Mr Elwood explained that the British governments opposed Israeli settlement activity, however, he stated that the matter of settlements is “not the only issue but one of a number”. He also explained that even if Israel stopped all its settlement activities it “would not immediately lead to peace”.
He went on to affirm the UK governments support for UN Security Council resolution 2334, which he described as “balanced”.
There are many words to describe resolution 2334 – “balanced” is not one we at CUFI UK would use.
Mr Elwood directly answered MPs who called on the UK to recognise Palestine as a state, saying the Palestinians had a ways to go before that would happen.
ME Minister: "We need Palestinians to do more to prevent incitement of violence…still seeing schools & squares named after terrorists" pic.twitter.com/r9kxE2xo09
— CFoI (@CFoI) February 9, 2017
“We need the Palestinians to do more to prevent the incitement of violence,” he said. “President Abbas condemns certain aspects of it, but we are still seeing schools and squares being named after terrorists. These are not the confidence-building measures we need see. There is no relationship with Hamas at all. Those confidence-building measures are the steps that will allow us to move forward, so that there can be a recognition in the long term of the state of Palestine, but they are not there yet.”
He continued, “the younger generation has given up on its own leadership, choosing instead to try to take a fast track to paradise by grabbing a knife and killing an Israeli soldier, and that is a terrible state of affairs to be in.”
In conclusion the motion was passed unanimously.
MPs approve the Motion on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories without a division.
— House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) February 9, 2017
The motion’s wording is as follows:
“That this House reaffirms its support for the negotiation of a lasting peace between two sovereign states of Israel and Palestine, both of which must be viable and contiguous within secure and internationally recognised borders; calls on the Government to take an active role in facilitating a resumption of international talks to achieve this; welcomes UN Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted on 23 December 2016; and further calls on the government of Israel immediately to halt the planning and construction of residential settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories which is both contrary to international law and undermines the prospects for the contiguity and viability of the state of Palestine.”
While this motion was fully expected to pass without objection, it is still disappointing to see members of the UK Parliament displaying anti-Israel attitudes.
We need to understand the true roots of this conflict from a Biblical perspective. Peace will never be achieved by singling out Israel.
We must pray for our MPs. It is important that our government rejects any anti-Israel resolutions and turns away from condemning the Jewish state. When that happens, our nation will be blessed.