Alex Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Stockton North, has laid down a challenge to the Government to prevent illegal expansions of Israeli settlements.
During questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the floor of the House, Alex questioned what advice was given by the Government to UK businesses on trading with illegal Israeli settlements.
With the Minister’s unsatisfactory response that the Department expresses the opinion that such settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace that does not help in the creation of a two-state solution, Alex asked:
“In light of UK businesses continuing and expanding trade and investment in the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, will [the Minister] confirm that it is actually wrong for them to do so? Does he not agree that a bit of advice is now insufficient and that he needs to take practical action to end these shameful activities?”
In response to this line of questioning, the Minister defended the Government’s ineffective and unsuccessful approach by arguing that it was not the Government’s role to discourage such business arrangements, suggesting that providing advice to such companies to allow them to make their own choice is no different to consumers making decisions through labelling of goods.
Reacting to the Department’s response, Alex said:
“I was very disappointed by the Department’s response and seeming indifference to this terrible situation. The Minister has today, in effect, given British companies the green light to expand their businesses in the illegally occupied territories in Palestine, and has failed to recognise the UK’s responsibility to uphold international law.”