Matt Sanders (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Matt Sanders (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Twitter: @MattSanders_. More information can be found here.

The following questions were asked:

1) Should and will the UK recognise Palestine? What would be the reasons for and against recognition?

2) Should the UK call for an end to all illegal Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian land, and stop trade with Israeli settlements? Do you consider settlements as an obstacle to peace, and what can the UK Government do about them?

Many thanks for your email. I appreciate you being so succinct, so I will do my best to answer as directly as I can.

  1. Yes, Liberal Democrat policy is to officially recognise the independent state of Palestine. We passed this policy at our Party Conference in Autumn 2017. We remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement, which includes a two-state solution.
  2. We are against illegal settlement expansion which we think undermines a two-state solution. Trade sanctions on Israeli settlements may make achieving a peaceful solution harder so instead we back the voluntary guidelines which enable customers to identify whether goods come from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and decide for themselves if they want to buy them.

We also:

  • Agree that child prisoners should be treated in accordance with international law and would oppose UK funds being spent on maintaining the military detention of children.
  • Oppose any resolution to the conflict that is not based on international law and which does not recognise the collective right of Palestinians to self-determination We do not believe that President Trump’s plans meet that standard are likely to meet that standard. We also believe that the question of the right of return of Palestinian refugees needs to be addressed in a final status agreement, negotiated between the two parties, and including a just, fair and agreed settlement for refugees. 
  • Would improve control of arms exports, including by introducing a policy of ‘presumption of denial’ for arms exports to countries listed as Human Rights Priority Countries in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual human rights report. In line with this, we would support imposing an arms embargo on countries who are using weapons in contravention of international law.
  • Believe that trade should be used as tool to encourage respect for human rights – in making trade deals the UK should not turn a blind-eye to human rights abuses and breaches of international law. Liberal Democrats would work through international bodies for better regulation and scrutiny of international trade and investment treaties to ensure they do not worsen inequalities or undermine human rights.

The Liberal Democrats believe that future UK trade deals should include a strong human rights clause, and that any trade agreement with Israel should be conditional upon the respect of international law and human rights. We are facing a situation around the world where international humanitarian law is being increasingly undermined. This is dangerous and unacceptable. We strongly believe that human rights should be at the centre of all future UK trade deals, not just with Israel or the OPTs, and conditional upon the respect of international law and human rights.

My priority now is to see a return to talks that bring a lasting end to the violence, improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and address Israel’s legitimate need for security. It is vital that the international community boosts its efforts at bringing both Israeli and Palestinian delegations back to the negotiating table.

I really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch, and hope my response is a reassuring one. Please get back to me if you have any further queries, on this or any other issues which matter to you.