The treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state in the city of Hebron amounts to “apartheid” a former Conservative international development minister has said.
During Foreign Office Questions in the House of Commons Desmond Swayne, who served as a minister until this summer, asked the Government front bench for its assessment of the situation in the city.
“Has he walked the streets of Hebron, which Palestinians may not use? We used to call that apartheid,” he asked.
Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative Foreign Office minister, replied that the MP’s description of the situation in the city was “lucid”.
“My honourable friend in his lucid way outlines the challenges that we face in Israel and indeed the West Bank,” he said.
“It is important that we are able to ensure that security measures that we spoke of at the initial question are about to provide those confidence building measures so that we can bring people back to the table.
“I do hope this is something the American administration will want to lean into.”
Later in the question session Mr Ellwood also condemned Israel's plan to legalise settlement outposts which it had previously accepted were illegal under international law.
Labour's shadow FCO minister Catherine West said the UK should renew its commitment to "preserving the state of Israel as a safe and stable national home for the Jewish people but also protecting the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
Human rights groups have reported “severe and deeply discriminating” restrictions on Palestinians moving around the city of Hebron, with the regular closure of major streets and armed security check-points.
Earlier this year Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director in the Middle East, said that on top of decades-long restrictions on Palestinians’ movement in the area, “new restrictions have compounded these violations and intensified the collective punishment of tens of thousands of Palestinians, in violation of international law”.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
Medics evacuate a wounded man from the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian rammed a vehicle into a bus stop then got out and started stabbing people before he was shot dead
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of an Israeli at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence
Palestinians throw molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis
Women cry during the funeral of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah, at the family house in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah
A wounded Palestinian boy and his father hold hands at a hospital after their house was brought down by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Palestinians look on after a protester is shot by Israelis soldiers during clashes at the Howara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank
Undercover Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian in Ramallah
Palestinian youth burn tyres during clashes with Israeli soldiers close to the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after Israel barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child
Israel justifies its policies based on the security situation in the West Bank, where stabbing attacks are currently taking place. The city came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967. Illegal Israeli settlements have since been built in the area.
In February David Cameron said he had seen first hand illegal settlements in “occupied east Jerusalem” and that he had found the situation there “genuinely shocking”.Reuse content