Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

Barry on the demolition of Palestinian villages

In 2009 'Israeli authorities approved plans to use the land' of Um al-Hiran 'to build a Jewish community'. However, Human Rights Watch states that 'Israel relocated the villagers' to Um al-Hiran 'under a 1956 agreement permitting them to live there in exchange for them dropping claims to land from which they say Israeli forces expelled them in 1948'. In May 2015 the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that 'the land belongs to the state and that it is entitled to withdraw permission for Um al-Hiran inhabitants to live there'. In January 2016 the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a 'final' attempt to block the demolition of Um al-Hiran. Barry sets out his position to constituents who wrote in about this issue below:

I share your concerns about the proposed demolition of the villages of Susiya and Um al-Hiran by a number of organisations and, indeed, that there has been a recent escalation in the number of demolitions taking place across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

My colleague the Shadow Foreign Secretary has raised the planned demolitions of the villages of Susiya and Um al-Hiran with the Foreign Secretary recently, and the Foreign Secretary has confirmed that the UK Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised concerns with the Israeli Government on the issue of demolitions. I know that the Foreign Secretary has also stressed the importance of resolutions to these matters being consistent with Israel's commitments under international law.

The demolition of Palestinian villages inflicts unnecessary suffering on ordinary Palestinians, and the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land on the Palestinian West Bank are wrong and illegal. Moreover, they represent a real threat to the creation of two states as a way of ending the conflict and for this to happen there needs to be a peace process.

I share the frustration, anger and disappointment expressed by many at the lack of progress on the Middle East peace process, and the daily confrontations that occur in the Occupied Palestinian Territories reminds us of the urgent need to find a negotiated two-state solution.

I know from the many letters and e-mails I have received that there are very strong feelings on this issue. I agree that every effort must be made to return both sides to meaningful negotiations, and I can assure you that I will continue to press the UK Government on this.

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