Question of Palestine home
"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
13 October 2011
Foreign Secretary updates Parliament on the Middle East and North Africa
The case for progress on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become more urgent as the pace of change in the region has quickened. We support a settlement with borders based on 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps, and a just settlement for refugees and Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
On 23 September at the UN General Assembly President Abbas lodged an application with the UN Security Council for full Palestinian membership of the United Nations. The Palestinian application is now being considered by the UN membership committee.
On 23 September the Quartet adopted a statement which provides a clear timetable for a conclusion to negotiations. We have called on both parties to return to talks on this basis. I welcome Baroness Ashton’s statement on 9 October that the parties will be invited to meet in the coming days. Success in this will require bold, decisive leadership from both sides, as well as painful compromises. Palestinians should focus on talks, rather than setting too many preconditions.
For the Israelis, time is slipping away for them to act in their own strategic interest. Expansion of settlements must end. They are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. This is why we voted in favour of the UN Security Council Resolution in February on this subject and why we continue to condemn announcements of new settlements.
The Israeli Government need to take bolder steps than Israeli leaders have been prepared to do in recent years. Separately I welcome the agreement between Israel and Hamas to release the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as part of a prisoner exchange. Holding him in captivity was utterly unjustified from the beginning and yet it has gone on for 5 long years, and the whole House will warmly welcome his return home.