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July 1, 2020

UK silence on planned West Bank annexation ‘deafening’

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P
Pa
July 1, 2020

LONDON: The silence from the UK government on Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank is “deafening”, ministers have been told.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said that world leaders have warned of the consequences if the annexation goes ahead. Foreign affairs minister James Cleverly said the UK would continue to dissuade a “friend and ally” in the state of Israel from taking such action.

Nandy told the Commons: “World leaders are warning of consequences should annexation go ahead but the silence from this government has been deafening. So much so that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz says France is now the world’s last best hope to stop annexation. This really is shameful.

“I raised my concerns with the US Ambassador, has (Cleverly)? Will he commit to a ban on settlement imports and recognise Palestine as this House voted to do? Forgive me, I may have missed it but if he won’t do those things, can he tell us exactly what he is proposing to do?”

Cleverly responded: “The UK remains a friend and ally to the state of Israel and a good friend to the Palestinian people. It is tempting, and I’m sure it would placate certain voices on the left of the political spectrum, to stamp our feet, to bang the table.

“What we will continue to do is dissuade a friend and ally in the state of Israel from taking a course of action which we believe will be against their own interests, and will do so in the most effective means possible.”

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alyn Smith said no amount of “warm words and sympathy” would be enough on the issue. He said: “I have much respect for (Cleverly) but with respect for all of us, I’m not asking him to stamp his feet or bang the table.

“I’m asking him to match the very warm, sensible position that he’s outlined today about the illegal annexation of the already illegally claimed settlements that we’re talking about with some actual action.

“No amount of warm words and sympathy is going to cut it in this discussion. We are likewise a friend of the two-state solution, we’re a friend of the Israeli state, we’re a friend of the Palestinians as well.

“We want to see a viable solution but there’s a lively debate that we can influence right now within Israel and we need to put action on the table, not warm words and sympathy.”

Cleverly responded: “(Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab) has spoken with his opposite number and other members of the Israeli government, as indeed have I, as indeed has our Prime Minister.

“We are working to dissuade Israel from taking this course of action. There will always be voices in British politics that would jump at any opportunity to bring in sanctions, disinvestment. We do not agree with those voices and we will continue to work towards a negotiated two-state solution using the diplomatic means we have at our disposal.”