Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth
A REPORT ON
Since our last report to the Foreign Affairs
Committee the Middle East region has continued to suffer from
acts of violence and terrorism. Since the start of the intifada
at the end of September 2000 nearly 700 Palestinians and nearly
200 Israelis have been killed. The most horrific single incident
was the suicide bombing of a popular pizza parlour in Jerusalem
on 9 August which killed 15 Israelis. As Ben Bradshaw said in
his statement after this attack: "There have been too many
funerals. It is time for Israelis and Palestinians to call a halt
to the bloodshed, and to make a positive choice for peace".
The Israeli sense of insecurity has been reinforced
by continued frequent drive-by shootings, sniping and mortar attacks
on Jewish settlements. We condemn such violence by the Palestinians.
Equally, however, we condemn Israeli use, in response, of excessive
and disproportionate force, including the use of tanks, helicopter
gunships and naval bombardments of Palestinian areas. These have
inevitably led to many civilian deaths and injuries. We have urged
both sides to show restraint.
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has also reoccupied
Palestinian-controlled territory and demolished housing, olive
trees and police posts which they claim were being used by the
perpetrators of Palestinian attacks on the IDF or Israeli civilians.
The Israeli Government has continued the practice of extra-judicial
killings, which we consider to be illegal under international
law. The imposition of restrictions on the movement of goods and
people (the closures) and the destruction of Palestinian property
and agricultural land have contributed to Palestinians' sense
of frustration and hopelessness. These measures have caused widespread
deprivation; they have undermined the provision of health, welfare
and education services and have also obstructed humanitarian assistance.
We have frequently urged the Israelis to lift these restrictions
and end the destruction of Palestinian property.
Our diplomatic activity, like that of our EU
partners and the US, is focused on the early and full implementation
of the recommendations of the Sharm El Sheikh or Mitchell Committee.
We believe that the Committee's report, which was published on
21 May, offers the only route back to permanent status negotiations.
Its publication was followed by the negotiation of the Tenet Accords,
concluded on 13 June, which committed both Israelis and Palestinians
to implement a security work plan to enforce the declared ceasefire.
The announcement of and commitment to declared ceasefires and
the meeting between Peres and Arafat on 26 September, raised hopes
that the Tenet Accords and the Mitchell recommendations might
be implemented. However, because of the recent escalation in violence,
the ceasefire and the process of direct talks are under severe
Since the beginning of October at least six
Israelis have been killed. We condemn the murder of Israelis by
Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority must do more to prevent
such acts and to punish those responsible. The death of at least
20 Palestinians in the same period as a result of IDF fire reinforces
the need for Israel to act with restraint. As the Secretary of
State said in the House on 4 October, Israel's response to these
appalling acts should be "neither excessive nor disproportionate".
We call on both sides to redouble their efforts to enforce the
ceasefire, implemented confidence building measures and resume
The terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September
have underlined the need to reinvigorate the Middle East Peace
Process (MEPP). There is and can be no excuse for terrorism, which
must be rooted out. This means not only taking security measures,
but also seeking to reduce the tensions which terrorists exploit.
Israeli-Palestinian violence is unacceptable, not only for the
deaths and injuries that it causes, but also because it encourages
the despair, anger and frustration which terrorists can exploit.
So it is vital, both in the context of our efforts
to combat terrorism and the interests of the Israeli and Palestinian
people, that we try even harder to promote a negotiated settlement
based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which recognises
the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and brings
Israel and security within recognised borders.
We are active in the search for a peaceful resolution
in the Middle East and are determined to maintain our engagement.
The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State, Mr Bradshaw and Lord
Levy have all been engaged on the MEPP, through meetings in London,
telephone conversations or travel to the region. The Secretary
of State's visit to Jordan, Iran, Israel, the Palestinian Authority
and Egypt between 24 and 27 September was followed by a further
round of consultations by Lord Levy. The Prime Minister visited
Cairo on 11 October. We have worked closely with our EU partners,
the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the countries
of the region to help create the conditions for peace. We will
continue to do so. We support the strenuous and effective efforts
of the EU High Representative, Javier Solana. The EU, through
his efforts and those of EU Ministers, has become a valued and
welcome partner to both sides.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office