Question on Palestine

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the proposed Palestinian statehood declaration, which is planned to be placed before the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, we see negotiations towards a two-state solution as the only way to meet the national aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians and lead to a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a safe and secure Israel and their other neighbours in the region.

The UK is fully committed to supporting the Fayyad plan and helping build the institutions of a future Palestinian state, but a negotiated solution remains the only result that will actually bring peace and justice to the Palestinian people. We call on the parties to return urgently to negotiations.

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. Does he think that the agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas is a step in the right direction for the attainment of statehood? Does he also feel that the work done by the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, in building the Palestinian institutions and economy has created the apparatus of a state, and that these achievements need to be recognised?

Lord Howell of Guildford: Of course this step is not yet fully consummated, but we want to see the formation of a Government who reject violence. If Hamas is to be part of that Government, it must reject violence; that is our position. If that were to go forward on the basis of the rejection of violence, we would see that as a good basis for building further hopes and moves towards serious negotiation. The Fayyad plan, as I have said, is something that we support. It takes us in the right direction towards building Palestinian statehood and getting the negotiations going again, which is central and crucial.

Updated: 18/05/2011 — 3:54 PM