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10. Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): If he will make representations to the Israeli Government on their policy of building a separation wall in Palestinian territory, erecting gates and turnstiles in the city of Hebron, and obstructing movement by the establishment of permanent checkpoints. [32397]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): We frequently raise our concerns on free movement and the route of the barrier with the Israeli Government. While we understand Israel's need to take security measures, the building of the barrier east of the green line is contrary to international law. Israel also has the obligation to ensure that Palestinian free movement is disrupted as little as possible.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: With the illegal line of the Israeli wall forcing transfers of the Palestinian population that amount to ethnic cleansing; with the centre of Hebron emptied because Palestinians cannot move while illegal Israeli settlers move randomly and at will throughout Hebron; with illegal settlements on the west bank being expanded constantly; and with my right hon. Friend's representations, which I respect and admire, being utterly ignored by the Israeli Government, what can be done to stop the Israeli Government breaking international law every day of the year?

Mr. Straw: It is a frustrating situation, particularly for the Palestinians who are adversely affected by it. As I have already spelt out to the House, we are putting continuous pressure on the Government of Israel directly through the European Union and through our friends in the United States to convey the message that if they wish to secure what they say is their stated aim—a viable, stable state of Palestine living alongside a secure state of Israel—it is not in their interests to pre-empt the decisions that are necessary to that two-state solution.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): In the Foreign Secretary's discussions with the Israeli Government would he make it plain that the need for those controls would be greatly reduced if there were early evidence of substantial movement on the status of Jerusalem?

Mr. Straw: I would do so, but the status of Jerusalem is the most difficult issue in final status negotiations, and it will not be resolved, if it is resolved at all, until then.

Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab): Despite reservations about my right hon. Friend's protests, will he repeat such protests, particularly about Bethlehem, as the opening of the new crossing at Rachel's tomb is an abomination? That district is deep inside Palestinian territory, and there is no justification for choking off its tourism industry and economy. In the run-up to
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Christmas, it is particularly important that reassurances are given and that my right hon. Friend supports, I hope, the "Open Bethlehem" initiative.

Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend should not have any reservations about the representations that my colleagues and I are making.

Joan Ruddock: My reservations are about their success.

Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend can certainly have reservations about their lack of success and I share her frustration. It is not in Israel's interests, still less is it in the Palestinians' interests, for the Israeli Government to resist those representations. I welcome, however, the strong pressure that I receive from Members on both sides of the House, including the eloquent language of my hon. Friend. We shall certainly continue to make those representations.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): Is it not the case that there would be no need for a defensive fence if terrorist attacks on the state of Israel did not take place? With that in mind, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that countries such as Syria and Iran, and perhaps even elements in Saudi Arabia who pay what some call protection money, do not support terrorist organisations that attack Israel through that fence?

Mr. Straw: First, it is legitimate for any state to erect a security wall to defend its citizens. The issue is not whether Israel is entitled to a security wall—the issue is the route. The objection is about where it goes not on Israeli land but on Palestinian land—let us make that clear. Secondly, I have made very, very strong representations to the Government of Iran and particularly to the Government of Syria, both privately and very publicly in the Security Council, to pressure Syria to do what it says it is doing but what, frankly, it has not done until now: force Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah to wind up all the activities that operate out of its territories. As for Saudi Arabia, I am not aware of any provenance for the hon. Gentleman's statement. These days, however, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are strongly opposed to any terrorist activity anywhere across the middle east.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): As the Foreign Secretary has acknowledged that the wall is illegal where it passes through Palestinian land, will he tell us what sanctions he proposes to take against Israel, since the Government of Israel clearly have not responded to the pressures that he and others have applied, asking them to abide by the World Court ruling that the wall should not pass through other people's territory?

Mr. Straw: There are no proposals in respect of sanctions, not least because I do not think we would get a resolution through the United Nations Security Council. That is a matter of fact. However, although it is a relative matter, I believe that the deep international concern about the line that the wall has taken and behind that, the even bigger concern about the
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settlements on Palestinian land, is having and should have an increasing effect on policy in the Government of Israel.

European Union

11. Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): Whether the UK rebate from the EU budget forms part of current negotiations on the future structure of the EU. [32398]

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): May I briefly take the opportunity to clarify for the House in relation to question 4 that Germany is one of 13 member states that have ratified the draft constitutional treaty?

In relation to the question from the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), I refer him to the answer given a few moments ago by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Among all the confused drift of the Government's European policy, at least they have been consistent about their promise not to give up the
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British rebate, which limits our contributions to the EU budget to about £3.5 billion a year. Does the hon. Gentleman remember the Prime Minister saying at that Dispatch Box on 8 June:

In view of the earlier remarks by the Foreign Secretary which referred to the so-called anomaly of the rebate, was that earlier promise by the Prime Minister worthless?

Mr. Alexander: It was not worthless. It reflects the fact that the rebate came into existence—we have already discussed this afternoon the historic origins in 1984 in Fontainebleau—because of the structural imbalance in a European budget which meant that Britain did not gain either through structural cohesion funds or through common agricultural policy funds the level of resource coming back from the European Union that many other large contributor countries to the EU did. It is therefore entirely consistent to recognise and acknowledge, as our Prime Minister has done, that the abatement is an anomaly, but that it is based on a much wider anomaly.

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Points of Order

3.32 pm

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): On point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 17 October, when I asked the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence if there were likely to be any advances on the £87 million cost increase in the troubled landing ships dock (auxiliary) contract with Swan Hunter, the Minister said:

Yet on 3 November, in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth), the Minister stated:

The answer also revealed a further £62 million payment to Swan Hunter, which had yet to be revealed to Parliament. Following that, my hon. Friend learned that the Ministry of Defence learned about that in June. So why, when the Minister learned of these further cost increases in June, did he not indicate when asked by me directly on 17 October that further cost increases were expected? Will you ask the Minister to come to the House and correct that misleading statement?

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