A former Conservative government minister has denounced the activities of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, during a debate in Parliament last Thursday.
Sir Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West and international development minister 2014-2016, told his fellow parliamentarians that “there is an increasingly militant settler movement that treats Palestine like its own biblical theme park.”
Last November, Swayne described the situation in Hebron, where there are “streets…which Palestinians may not sue” as a form of “apartheid.”
The new remarks came during a discussion about the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Christian Palestinian community in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to Church of England representative Dame Caroline Spelman, the Archbishop of Canterbury intends to visit the occupied Palestinian territory later this year.
In the same debate, former Labour shadow minister Helen Goodman described how “Palestinian Christians are suffering the effects of the settlement.” In a recent visit to the region, the MP “stood on the hills behind Bethlehem” and saw how Israel’s Wall “carve[s] through Palestinian farmland.”
She added: “When the Archbishop and the Bishop [of Southwark] go to the occupied territories, please could they make vocal their witness to the injustice that is happening?”
Separately, also on 19 January, Swayne also sought assurances from the government that there was no “significant shift in Government policy over recent days as we cosy up to the incoming American Administration in granting complete impunity to Israel?”
Responding, the Leader of the House of Commons MP David Lidington affirmed that “the Government’s policy on Israel and Palestine has not changed.”
“We remain committed to a two-state solution, involving a sovereign, independent viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel, with mutually agreed land swaps where appropriate and with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states. Our view on the settlements remains that they are illegal in international law, and that is at the heart of the United Kingdom’s policy.”
SOURCE: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR