“The settlement must stop now”: John talks about Area C in Palestine

Yesterday Southampton Itchen’s Labour MP, John Denham, spoke in Westminster Hall in a debate on Area C of the West Bank.

During the debate, John called for the settlement of the area to be stopped, because if it continues, the west bank is effectively wholly divided and it will be almost impossible for the negotiations to reach a resolution.

John said, in describing the georgraphical size of Area C:

“The area between that settlement [Ma’ale Adumim area] and Jericho is the same as the area between my constituency in Southampton and Winchester. On a train, that is about enough time get a cup of coffee and get out a laptop.”

You can watch John’s speech during the debate by clicking here

Alternatively, you can read it here:

Mr John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): I draw the Chamber’s attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, and to the fact that I accompanied my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran) on his recent visit to the region.

What the hon. Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) described as preconditions were, until recently, regarded as the mutually agreed starting point for the way to achieve a two-state solution. Those have now been withdrawn from negotiations, which makes things more difficult. I wanted to highlight the way that Area C, which was originally conceived of as a transitional measure—part of the process of going to a two-state solution—is slowly but surely being taken by the Israelis as an area of Israeli authority, in which they are able to impose their will, often with a fiction of law, as I said in an intervention, to the disadvantage of the Palestinian people. That is a very different concept of Area C. It raises a number of important questions.

As European taxpayers, we are, to a considerable extent, paying the human and social cost of that occupation. We are paying the very substantial funding for the Palestinian Authority, and for pretty much all of what is described as economic growth within the occupied territories. It has been wholly right to provide funding in that way, as part of a genuine transition towards a two-state solution. It is not at all obvious to me how we will continue to make the case for European taxpayers finding that money when we are funding not a transition to a peaceful solution, but the status quo.

One of the things that struck me on my most recent visit was how small the place is and how critical the issues are. We went to the Ma’ale Adumim area, where the Bedouin whom we talked about earlier were. The area between that settlement and Jericho is the same as the area between my constituency in Southampton and Winchester. On a train, that is about enough time get a cup of coffee and get out a laptop. Yet if that settlement continues, the west bank is effectively wholly divided. There is no possibility of a Palestinian state with physical integrity. That is why the settlement must stop now; otherwise, it will be almost impossible for the negotiations to reach a resolution.

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