Thank you for your email about my views on the situation in Israel and Palestine.
In the European Parliament, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I are committed to protecting and promoting human rights across the world, and have done some work on the Israel and Palestine conflict.
Ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is vital not only for their interests but for those of the wider region and the EU as well. In the summer of 2012, the Parliament met in Strasbourg and passed (by a majority of 29 votes in favour, 274 against and 39 abstentions) a resolution calling on both parties to resume talks on a two-state resolution without delay.
There has been a particular issue regarding illegally Israeli settlements in the West Bank. At the same time as the above vote, we also called on the Israeli government to stop all construction and extension of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In addition, since July 2013 new EU guidelines bar the Commission from awarding grants to Israeli projects in the territory occupied since 1967 and exclude Israeli businesses and institutions that operate in the West Bank from receiving EU loans
Some of my Liberal Democrat MEP colleagues, including Fiona Hall, wrote a joint letter in September of this year to the European Commission urging them to implement these guidelines in full. This cross-party letter stated:
“We call on you to implement the guidelines in full as we oppose the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s policy of establishing settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been condemned on numerous occasions by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice.
Allowing Israeli entities established in the settlements or having activities there to benefit from financial assistance from the EU would mean de facto recognition of the legality of Israel’s illegal and immoral settlement policy. These guidelines are therefore in full conformity with international law, which the EU is bound to respect in accordance with Articles 3(5) and 21(1) of the Treaty of the European Union.”
The letter also confirmed that the MEPs “feel strongly that Israeli settlements should not benefit from European taxpayers’ money”.
I believe the EU and its member states must play a more active political role in achieving a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but also stop illegal activity like these settlements.
This debate is by no means over and I will be working along with my colleagues to encourage Europe to take further measures to address the ongoing issues. You have my assurance that I will continue to monitor the conflict in Palestine. In the meantime if you feel there is any other way in which I can be of assistance at a European Union level, then please do not hesitate to get back in touch.