My Lords, I care about humanitarian issues, and I have been involved in facilitating two convoys of humanitarian aid being sent to Gaza through the Rafah crossing. I have also visited Gaza with the consent of those on my Front Bench and the Conservative Party. I, along with three other British parliamentarians, visited Israel and the West Bank last month. While in Ramallah, we had a meeting with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the West Bank. During our meeting, the Prime Minister said that if and when the Palestinians get full independence, the half a million Israelis would be welcome to stay in the West Bank.
We also spent the best part of a day with an Israeli army officer and high officials in the Israeli Foreign Office to hear the Israelis’ point of view. I have therefore visited Gaza, Israel and the West Bank and have first-hand knowledge of the various issues.
In regard to Fatah and Hamas, the leaders of both groups have today signed a reconciliation pact in Cairo aimed at ending their four-year rift. The agreement paves the way for a joint interim Government and fixes a date for general elections next year. The Palestinians are aiming for a declaration of statehood in September, and I very much hope that all parties involved in the dispute will have something positive to say before the declaration.
I think that the peace plan submitted last month, whose signatories included two former leaders of the Israeli intelligence agency, Shin Bet, a former chief of Mossad and a former chief of the Israeli defence forces, needs to be considered. Israel is a mighty military power, but it must be magnanimous and arrive at a two-state solution whereby it has a guarantee of security and nationhood, but in return it must ensure that Arabs are fairly treated and have full independence. To achieve this, we need active participation and help not only from the two countries involved but from the United States, the European Union and, of course, other members of the quartet.