Liz Kendall MP – now standing for Leader of the Labour Party – responded to PSC’s survey of candidates in the run up to the General Election, May 2015.

These are the questions the candidates were asked to respond to:

  1. I urge the UK Government to uphold the principles of equality, human rights and international law in all its relations and dealings with Israel. Yes/no
  2. I consider the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal and unjustifiable.Yes/no
  3. Do you agree that one of the first acts of the next UK Government should be the recognition of Palestine?
    Yes/no/don’t know
  4. Do you agree that the blockade on Gaza should be lifted immediately?
    Yes/no/don’t know
  5. Do you agree that we should stop trade with Israel’s settlements on Palestinian land, and stop settlement goods being sold in Britain?
    Yes/no/don’t know
  6. Do you agree that the EU Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel meets its human rights obligations?
    Yes/no/don’t know
  7. Do you agree that the government should stop supplying arms to Israel until it complies with international law?
    Yes/no/don’t know

Here is Liz’s response:

Thank you for your recent email about Israel and Palestine.First of all, I am really sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.  I receive a large number of letters and emails from people in Leicester West, and because of an administrative error I have not seen your email below until just now – for which I am terribly sorry. 

Let me start by saying that I absolutely share your frustration, anger and disappointment at the lack of progress on the Middle East peace process and the growing tensions and violence we have seen over recent months. The appalling loss of life that occurred in Gaza last summer – with more than 2,000 people killed – the inexcusable attack on worshippers at a Synagogue in West Jerusalem, and the daily violence and confrontation that occurs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories reminds us of the urgent need to find a negotiated two-state solution.

 

My Labour colleagues and I fully support two states living side by side in peace, and recognised by all of their neighbours. Labour is clear that this conflict will only be resolved through negotiations. We believe that the international community must take concrete steps to strengthen moderate Palestinian opinion, encourage the Palestinians to take the path of politics, reject the path of violence, and rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.

 

We are clear that Palestinian recognition at the UN would be such a step. That is why, in both 2011 and in 2012 we urged the UK Government to support the Palestinian’s bid for recognition at the UN – not as a means of bypassing the need for talks, but as a bridge for restarting them.

 

I also think that both sides needs to avoid all acts that are harmful to the peace process. This includes the building of settlements which, as Ed Miliband said, are both illegal and immoral. We are clear, however, that the threat of boycotts of Israel is the wrong response. Labour has taken and will maintain domestic action to introduce labelling transparency, and will seek a Europe-wide approach to settlement products.

 

Today, the immediate priority for the international community must be to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of Palestinians who are in desperate need and to help the rebuilding of basic infrastructure in Gaza.

 

It is vital that both sides work together to de-escalate the situation in the area, prevent further bloodshed, and to ensure a return to negotiations and the search for a peaceful political settlement. Our goal must be not just to end the war, but have a strategy for building the peace.

 

I assure you that my Labour colleagues and I remain as determined as ever to do all that we can to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state, which exists in peace next to a secure Israel, and I hope the UK Government will continue to work with our international partners to help pursue this.

 

I hope this reassures you. Thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you have any further questions about this or any other matter, please do get in touch and I will do all I can to help.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Liz KendallFormer Member of Parliament for Leicester WestAs Parliament has been dissolved there are no MPs until after the election on the 7th of May.