In response to questions posed to both Ed Davey and Jo Swinson by LDFP, we received the following reply from ED:
Q. In 2009 the Party Conference voted to condemn the disproportionate attacks on Gaza of that year and urge the suspension of the Association agreement between the EU and Israel until the siege of Gaza is lifted. (motion attached). There has been one further all-out attack in 2014, over 200 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces in the last 18 months and the siege has got steadily worse. What would you do now to put pressure on Israel to end the siege of Gaza and stop killing Gazans?
A. I am extremely conscious of the impact on people of the siege of Gaza having travelled to Gaza there on an All-Party Group after the 2009 attack (there’s still our report on the internet).
We must continue to call for an end to the siege and demand that the basic infrastructure is repaired and replaced – from water supplies to basic sanitation, from medical supplies to electricity.
The question as always is how we galvanise the international community into action to focus on measures to press Israel into lifting the siege. As we Brexit (hopefully we don’t ever), our ability to use EU mechanisms currently is severely reduced and we won’t get Trump and the US to join in any action.
This seems to me to seriously reduce our options. One possibility is to raise a significant aid package, unilaterally, inviting others to join us, and challenging Israel to prevent us delivering significant humanitarian aid. Having been stopped at the border for 6 hours myself in a group of British MPs, I know how obstructive the Israeli authorities can be, but one needs to find practical ways to embarrass them and highlight the siege – as currently it is very low on the international priority list.
Q. In 2017 the Party Conference voted for immediate recognition of the State of Palestine (motion attached). What steps would you take as Leader to encourage support and cooperation across Parliament for implementation of the House of Common’s own resolution on this issue that was passed in September 2014?
A. The key to this vital recognition is obviously to win over the Government of the day. The current Parliament and the Brexit issue is preventing a whole range of issues like this from being addressed – so the ability to implement the resolution will have to be assessed after the next election. We need to repeat the commitment in our manifesto and to establish who we can work with in the next Parliament. We can use debates, APPGs and media – but it will ultimately depend on our ability to influence/determine the next Government.
Q. What steps would you take to put pressure on Israel to come into compliance with international law by observing international conventions such as those on colonisation and rights of the child, ending the occupation, and recognising the state of Palestine?
A. The most powerful measure that could be achievable in my view would be a ban on imports from the occupied territories. This has practical difficulties which I’ve discussed with diplomats and trade experts but given it would be a powerful signal it should still be considered.
Given where the debate is at the moment a key tactic has to be raising awareness of these issues still as they are remarkably low.
I would be happy to meet with the LDFP to discuss these matters.
We will publish Jo’s response as soon as we receive it.