393. We conclude that resolving the Israel-Palestine
conflict must remain a United Kingdom foreign policy priority.
We reiterate our previous conclusion that resolution of this conflict
is an essential component in the wider US-led campaign to defeat
Islamist terrorism and to promote reform in the Middle East region.
394. We support the position taken by the
Government in welcoming Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza
while insisting that all aspects of the final settlement remain
open for negotiation. However, we conclude that it is important
that the withdrawal from Gaza should be followed by withdrawals
from the West Bank.
395. We recommend that the Government work
with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet to facilitate
Israel's 'disengagement' from Gaza, to encourage Israel to make
further withdrawals, to bring an end to Palestinian suicide attacks,
and to aid reconstruction and security efforts in the Palestinian
territories. We further recommend that the Government, in its
response to this Report, set out in detail what steps it is taking
to ensure that Israel's plan for 'disengagement' from Gaza is
fully consistent with a durable solution to the wider Israel-Palestine
problem, including details of any steps being taken with regard
to post-withdrawal peace keeping.
396. We reiterate our previous conclusion
that the case for building a barrier along the Green Line would
be strong and understandable, but to build it within the West
Bank is neither justifiable nor acceptable and gives rise to fears
that Israel intends to annex this land. We recommend that the
Government make it clear to Israel that efforts unilaterally to
change facts on the ground in occupied territory are illegal under
international law. We are encouraged by the recent decisions by
the Israeli high court halting construction of the barrier, but
reiterate our previous conclusion that Israeli maintenance and
expansion of illegal settlements combined with the construction
of the barrier on Palestinian land constitute a severe impediment
to efforts to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority and to the creation of a viable Palestinian
state. We recommend that the Government make this position absolutely
and unequivocally clear in its public pronouncements, as well
as in its diplomatic exchanges with the United States and Israel.
We conclude that actions taken so far have failed to stop Israel's
construction of the barrier in occupied territory. We further
conclude that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution ES-10/15
of 20 July 2004, passed overwhelmingly and with the support of
the British Government and all EU Member states, regarding the
barrier, is to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government set
out in its response to this Report what it is doing bilaterally
and with the EU, the US and the Quartet to stop construction of
the barrier in occupied territory.
397. The high level of violence suffered by
both peoples makes a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict
urgent. This urgency is increased by the serious deterioration
in living conditions in the Palestinian territories. It is critical
that, as well as putting pressure on the Israeli Government and
the Palestinian Authority to do more to stop the violence, efforts
are made to 'de-radicalise' the Palestinian population, by addressing
the conditions of extreme poverty in which many of them live.
398. We conclude with regret that the Road
Map is stalled, possibly fatally. We further conclude that there
is little likelihood of the two parties reaching a negotiated
settlement of their own accord in the short term, and that time
is fast running out for a viable two-state solution to be achieved.
Nevertheless, we believe that a resolution of the conflict along
the lines discussed at Taba in January 2001 is not unattainable.
399. We once again recommend that the Government
work to encourage the US to send a high-level emissary to the
Middle East with the dedicated aim of resolving this long-standing
conflict. While recognising Israel's mistrust of European policy
in the region, we also conclude that Europe, including the United
Kingdom, could be playing a more influential role. In order to
overcome this mistrust, we recommend that the Government consider
how to engage Israel more positively, both bilaterally and through