Middle East Peace Process
I firmly support the UK’s longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process. There should be a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a fair and realistic settlement for refugees.
I have visited Israel and have seen first-hand the problems facing the region. I must say that I am a passionate believer in Israel's right to exist. We must do everything we can to support our allies in Israel as the only fully functioning democracy in the region.
The UK Government consistently calls for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution. There is no substitute for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which is the only way to a reach a two state solution and a lasting peace.
Israel: UN Resolutions
I am proud of the UK’s role in the birth of the state of Israel, with whom the UK shares a deep and meaningful relationship. I welcome the UK Government’s deep commitment to promoting trade and business ties with Israel and its strong opposition to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. I also have every confidence that the UK’s trading relationship with Israel will continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come.
Our close friendship with Israel does not prohibit our criticism of some Israeli policies, or our recognition of Israel as a thriving democracy and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity. Nor does it stand in the way of the UK acting in honest accordance with our clear and long-standing position, that is, the commitment to a two-state solution, where two equal and sovereign states live side by side in peace and mutual respect. The UK regularly calls upon all sides to desist from engaging in activities that undermine this end; and this is reflected in the UK's voting record at the UN and diplomatic activity in general.
The UK has been a major contributor to the UN since its inception seventy-five years ago, occupying a prominent role within it, and defends wholeheartedly its role as a place where issues of international concern can be discussed productively and respectfully. To be clear, none of the above should be construed as resulting from a bias against Israel. On the contrary, the UK regularly raises issues of concern in a wide range of countries, via the UN and bilaterally, including with our closest and most longstanding allies, of which Israel is one.
The UK's position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It must ensure Jerusalem is a shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states, with access and religious rights of both peoples respected.
Israel Apartheid Week
While free speech is vital to the independence and innovation that embodies higher education, no student should face discrimination, harassment or racism, including antisemitism. I am assured that the Government is committed to addressing antisemitism wherever it occurs and I am encouraged that the UK became the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
Ministers will continue to call on all higher education institutions to accept the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which is a tool to help front-line services better understand and recognise instances of antisemitism. I believe this would send a clear message that antisemitic behaviour will not be tolerated and will be taken seriously by higher education providers.
All universities and higher education institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment and have a responsibility to ensure students do not face discrimination, harassment, abuse or violence, including online. Universities are expected to have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to investigate and swiftly address any hate crime and antisemitic incidents that are reported.
Ministers have provided over £144,000 for a programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus, delivered by the Holocaust Education Trust, in partnership with the Union of Jewish Students. I also welcome that an additional £500,000 of government funding will be provided to allow 200 university students each year to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, to hear from the last Holocaust survivors and to help educate students on the importance of continuing to tackle antisemitism on campuses.