Caabu delegation visits Palestine as Foreign Office admits "window to a two-state solution is rapidly closing"
From 6 to 10 December a Caabu delegation visited the occupied West Bank , even as the UK Foreign Office admitted that the recent settlement announcement by Israel “has the potential to alter the situation on the ground on a scale that threatens the viability of a two-state solution.”
The delegation of six MPs visited E1, the highly controversial area earmarked for building in Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest announcement. There they saw how the settlement plans – announced as a punitive measure in response to Palestine’s recognition in the UN General Assembly – will deal a death blow to the two-state solution by severing East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
The delegation also visited the Jordan Valley – a fertile strip of land that should form the backbone of any future Palestinian state – and witnessed how restrictions on access to land, water and building permits have left Palestinian communities living in poverty, while next door industrial-scale farms owned by Israeli settlers thrive. Many of the goods farmed there are exported to European consumers, as highlighted in a recent report signed by Caabu, Trading Away Peace.
Caabu Parliamentary Officer, Kate Meekings, said of the trip, “Both E1 and the Jordan Valley are vital components of any future Palestinian state: both provide the West Bank with territorial contiguity, are home to significant Palestinian communities, and the Jordan Valley has the potential to be Palestine’s bread basket. Yet both areas are threatened by the expansion of illegal settlements.
“The international community must back up its strong rhetorical reaction to E1 with actions. Our position on the illegality of the settlements is unequivocal, yet we continue to underwrite them through trade.”
The delegation - which consisted of Debbie Abrahams MP, Simon Danczuk MP, Nia Griffith MP, Duncan Hames MP, Dai Havard MP and David Ward MP - also visited Hebron, Ramallah, Jericho, the Biddu enclave, and Kufr Qaddoum. The delegation also had meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including with Mark Regev, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.
The day after the delegation returned from Palestine, Mark Hendrick MP – who visited the West Bank with Caabu in June 2012 – held an adjournment debate on the peace process. During the debate Foreign Office minister, Mark Simmonds, admitted that “we are gravely concerned about the dangerous impasse in the peace process, particularly over the last two years. We believe that the window to a two-state solution is rapidly closing.”
Without a major breakthrough soon, E1 and the Jordan Valley could become the final resting place of the two-state solution.
 The delegation applied for permission from the Israeli authorities to enter Gaza, but were denied.
 Caabu has taken 20 MPs to the West Bank and Gaza in 2012.