British House of Commons in London..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United Kingdom House of Commons passed a resolution on Thursday that condemned Israeli settlement activity and affirmed United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that call on Israel to halt such action.
Although the debate had been pre-scheduled it came during a week when European government, including the United Kingdom have spoken out against the Knesset's authorization of the Settlements Law, which retroactively legalizes 4,000 settler homes private Palestinian property.
With passage of that law, a “dangerous threshold was cross,” Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood told the House of Commons.
The UK was one of 14 countries, out the UNSC 15 member body, that voted in support of Resolution 2334.
Member of Parliament John Howell from the Conservative Party took issue with the focus on settlements as a stumbling bloc to peace. “Why are we picking on settlements, when there are a whole rang elf issues,” Howell said.
The UNSC resolution, he said, is part of the internationalization of the peace when what is needed is for Israelis and Palestinians to hold direct talks without pre-conditions. Unfortunately, he said, the Palestinians “come up with pre-conditions each and every time and it usually involves the release of more terrorists.”
He detailed the steps Israel had taken against settlement activity, including 10-month moratorium on new settler housing starts that run from November 2009 to September 2010.
He also pointed to the 2008 Annapolis process in which Israel offered to withdraw from 94% of the West Bank. “At the moment all Israel has received is a denial of its right to exist and an intensification of violence,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority, he warned, is scared to hold elections, because it fears it will be replaced by ISIS.
MP Simon Danczuk of the Labour party said that Israel’s “perpetual land grabs are immoral and illegal and a barrier to peace.”
Why should the Palestinians believe that Israel is committed to peace when they see these homes go up,” he said.
MP Helen Goodman of the Labour party urged the United Kingdom to impose “personal sanctions” on those people who promote and benefit from the settlements.
In the late afternoon, the House of Commons passed a resolution that condemned settlement activity.
In Belgium, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke against Israeli settlement activity when he met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. He had held a similar conversation just two days earlier with French President Francois Hollande.
“What Israel did in passing a law in the Knesset a few days ago legalizes the theft of private Palestinian land owned by Palestinians for the benefit of settlers,” Abbas said.
Israeli settlement activity, he said, “is an assault against our people, a violation of international law, and a wanton challenge to international law, which has been expressed through UNSC resolution 2334."
“We will confront [these acts] in all international bodies and we will continue our work with international courts to protect our existence and survival on Palestine’s land,” he said. “We call on the international community including Belgium and all European states to help us implement UNSC resolution 2334 before too much time passes.”
“We need to not allow for the reinforcement racist discrimination, apartheid,” Abbas said.
He also spoke by telephone with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini who is in Washington D.C. meeting with politicians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to travel to Washington next week to meet with US President Donald Trump. West Bank settlement activity is expected to be part of their discussion.
On Thursday the residents of the Amona outpost called on Netanyahu to approve the new settlement he promised them prior to departing. Trump has been largely silent on the issue of West Bank settlement activity but two weeks ago, the White House issued a statement asking Israel to refrain from unilateral action such as the creation of new settlements.