The Israel-Palestine Peace Process in 2018 and the UK Lib Dems

A cross-party Early Day Motion (EDM1169) currently in the House of Commons deals with the imminent demolition by the Israeli military of a whole Palestinian Bedouin village, Al Khan Al-Ahmar, in the Occupied Territories. This raises broader concerns over aspects of the current Israeli Government’s policy on Israeli ‘settlers’ in the West Bank.

So far only Tom Brake MP and Norman Lamb MP among the Lib Dems have signed this EDM, which to date has enjoyed the insufficient publicity. I wish to bring this EDM to the attention of our MPs with the aim of having more Lib Dem MPs sign it.

Public controversy on Israel-Palestine issues in the last two weeks has been focused on embassies moving to Jerusalem, and related protests on the Gaza/Israel ‘border’. However, this EDM refers to something more important for long-term prospects for peace.

Speaking personally, I am neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestinian; I am ‘pro-peace & prosperity’, for the whole Eastern Mediterranean region. I have worked in Israel in economics and with human rights groups and with the Negotiation Affairs Dept. of the Palestinian Authority. Notwithstanding I rarely foray into this controversy, despite being a member of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee. However, this is a cross-party matter which I believe we should support wholeheartedly.

I support a peaceful and prosperous Israel, and a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian state, both integrated into the regional economy … with the conflicts resolved to the best extent possible. The status of this conflict has a very major impact on the world, and thus the UK and its Allies, and hence the Lib Dems, are right to try to influence the parties involved towards peace.

This EDM is not about the conflict as a whole, or even primarily the current settler policy. It is about the geographical path of Israeli settlement building east of Jerusalem, along the Jericho road to the Jordanian border. If settlement building reaches the border, the West Bank will be divided into enclaves, and East Jerusalem will be closed to Palestinian access. Hence these ethnically Bedouin villagers have been known as ‘gatekeepers of Jerusalem’ and as guardians of the ‘two-state solution’. The demolitions and forcible displacement will have a significant negative impact on prospects for any viable Palestinian state expected to emerge from any restart of serious talks.

After a long, controversial Israeli legal process, Al Khan Al-Ahmar is about to be demolished. The High Court in Israel Thursday 31st May ruled for the demolition of the school and entire village. Demolition can take place now at any time.

The EU and UK have attempted to halt the eastward expansion of settlements towards the Jordanian border, to stop partition of the West Bank, and have tried to draw the line with Al Khan Al-Ahmar, in the interests of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Representatives of EU countries including UK Minister Alistair Burt recently visited the village, and UK Foreign Office representatives and have published videos appealing for the demolition to be cancelled.

I hope that bringing EDM1169 to the attention of Lib Dem MPs will lead to more signing the EDM in the interests of peace. In doing so, I hope they will have the support of both the Lib Dems Friends of Israel and the Lib Dem Friends of Palestine.

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance. He is an elected member of FIRC and an Executive member of Liberal International (British Group).

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6 Comments

  • Thank you Paul for drawing attention to this. It might be helpful for readers to have the link to the EDM to which you refer: https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1169

    Such is the concern in the House of Commons about Palestine and Israel’s continuing and flagrant breaches of international law and human rights that there seems to be an EDM on some aspect of the conflict nearly every week.

    In addition questions are constantly being asked in both Houses of Parliament about the situation there and, while the UK Government is forthright in its criticisms of Israel, it is reluctant to take any actions to put pressure on Israel to change its ways.

    At the initiative of Lord David Steel, the House of Lords will be discussing “The situation in the occupied territories” tomorrow morning Thursday 7 June in a 2.5 hour debate. Several Lib Dem Peers have put their names down to speak.

  • David Garlick 7th Jun '18 - 10:23am

    I don’t think that Israel sees the return of these lands to Palestinians as ever being something that they will have to do. The bigger question is what is the world going to do about that?
    My view is that the Palestinians should be supported to grow and prosper massively in the land they still control and in return for that the world should ask them to end the violence and the Israelis’ to return the land they illegally occupy. Fiddling around the edges of this conflict is helping no one and the killing goes on.

  • Paul Reynolds 7th Jun '18 - 12:37pm

    My thanks to Lib Dem MPs Christine Jardine and Layla Moran for signing EDM 1169 yesterday.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Jun '18 - 5:58pm

    It seems such a reasonable motion that I don’t see why more MPs have signed it. All the power lies with the Israeli government and until that balance is changed, I don’t see much progress being made. I also don’t see why sanctions and boycotts are not more effective.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 7th Jun '18 - 6:27pm

    The Palestinian issue was debated in the House of Lords today, (below) in a debate introduced by Lord David Steel. I urge everyone here to read his excellent speech informed by great experience and wisdom. Liberal Democrats have taken the principled position of recognising the State of Palestine, as many others contributing also called on this Government to do the same. Good contributions from our Foreign Affairs Spokesperson in the Lords, Lindsay Northover, also from Barbara Janke and Jenny Tonge. I note that many more in the Lords are calling for condemnation of the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel, and are no supporters of the Netanyahu government. It’s a shame that this government is complicit in failing to condemn illegal killings of unarmed protestors including children journalists, and medics. Liberal Democrats have a proud tradition of promoting human rights, one that we need to continue robustly to help bring justice to the Palestinian people, and clearly reflects the growing support across the UK & EU. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-06-07/debates/C5858EA0-D1CF-48CF-A7AB-B04D4316EC7A/PalestinianTerritories

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