Press release

Minister for the Middle East visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Foreign Office Minister for Middle East Tobias Ellwood made first official visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week.

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Following his visit to Gaza on Monday, Mr Ellwood today met President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah and Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Malki. They discussed Palestinian and international efforts to rebuild Gaza, the urgent need for progress in the Cairo talks and the prospects for progress towards a negotiated two-state solution.

Mr Ellwood also visited Bedouin communities outside Jerusalem at risk of relocation from the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem. He was briefed on the effect of settlement building on Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and its impact on the viability of the two-state solution.

Mr Ellwood said:

Following my visit to Gaza earlier this week, I conveyed to President Abbas my condolences at the loss of life and destruction suffered in Gaza. I expressed my appreciation for the President’s strong, moderate leadership.

I discussed with him and Prime Minister Hamdallah the need for urgent action, led by the Palestinian Authority and supported by the international community, to help ordinary Gazans rebuild their lives. We discussed the Cairo talks and the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict in Gaza, ensuring peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis and the lifting of movement and access restrictions.

I also met members of the Khan al Ahmar Bedouin, who are contesting Israeli plans for the relocation of their communities. The community described to me the suffering this would cause. I made clear the UK’s deep concern about proposals to relocate Bedouin communities in the E1 area, and to build settlements which would put in serious jeopardy the prospect of a viable Palestinian state. I emphasised the importance of these communities being treated in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.

In my discussions with President Abbas, I underlined the need for all parties to work urgently towards a negotiated two-state solution, creating a viable, prosperous Palestinian State, alongside a secure state of Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

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Published 8 October 2014