Caabu delegates speak in parliamentary debate on Area C of the West Bank
On 4 July Frank Doran MP - who went on a Caabu delegation in May - introduced a Westminster Hall debate on the situation in Area C of the occupied West Bank. Of the MPs that spoke, nine have been on Caabu delegations to the West Bank.
The United Nations defines Area C as 60% of the West Bank, with 70% of it totally off limits for Palestinian construction and 29% of it heavily restricted.[i]
Numerous areas of debate were covered, with many MPs raising concerns over expansion of the illegal settlements, lack of building permits for Palestinians, home demolitions and access to water.
One area that was pushed by two Caabu delegates – former Middle East Minister Ben Bradshaw MP and Palestine All-Party Group chair Richard Burden MP – was a government move towards ending trade with settlements, with Burden arguing that the UK was effectively “colluding in that illegality”. In his response, the government’s Middle East Minister, Alistair Burt MP, reiterated that settlements are illegal and said publically for the first time that plans to halt trade with settlements were under “active consideration”.
Labour’s shadow Middle East Minister, Ian Lucas MP, who visited the West Bank with Caabu in May, spoke about the disappearing prospects for a two-state solution:
"If we are to build a two-state solution ... there must be two viable states, which are secure in their borders… the continued expansion of the settlements poses an urgent threat to the future for a two-state solution."
Frank Doran concluded his speech in the debate by saying:
"We will reach a resolution only if we find a political solution, and it does not seem to me that either side is capable of working towards that. It is, therefore, a question for us... the people whom we and others in the debate met in Palestine, including those who live in Khan al-Ahmar [a Bedouin community at risk of forced displacement visited by the delegation], deserve a better life. It is our job to help them find it."[ii]
The Bedouin of al-Khan al-Ahmar, to whom Doran referred, were watching the debate live over the internet from the East Jerusalem periphery.
[i]For more information, see the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Area C map - http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ochaopt_atlas_restricting_space_december2011.pdf
[ii]For the full debate, see Hansard - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120704/halltext/120704h0002.htm