Candidates’ Responses

Below you can find the current list of responses received to Yachad’s three questions for 2017 General Election candidates, listed alphabetically by constituency. If you have heard back from your candidates but their reply does not feature in the list below, please forward their email to info@yachad.org.uk

Skip to a constituency:

Cambridge

East Dunbartonshire

Enfield Southgate

Finchley & Golders Green

Hampstead & Kilburn

Ilford North

 

Cambridge

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat candidate:

Thank you for the email, and for taking this stance.

I agree that we need a two-state solution, and that the occupation and in particular the way Netanyahu is acting, makes this less likely. Palestinians are being treated atrociously, with human rights abuses far too common.

I do not think there is an easy answer here – I went to both Israel and Gaza when I was the MP, and it was clear that there were many on both sides who were utterly intransigent, despite the harm they cause.

I will continue to argue for a 2-state solution, where both nations can leave in peace and security together. I voted to recognise Palestine, and I think that is an important step to take. We should also be stronger with the Israeli government when they take steps that are contrary to international law.

We should also be robust in opposing anti-semitism; criticising Israel’s actions is absolutely acceptable, but when it crosses the line, that is less so. Israel’s actions should not be used as a cover for anti-semitism, but nor should claims of anti-semitism be used to ban criticism of Israel.

Daniel Zeichner, Labour candidate:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
I share the frustration and disappointment expressed by many at the lack of progress on the Middle East Peace Process, and I strongly believe that a negotiated two-state solution is in the interests of both Israel and the Palestinians.

A report by the Middle East Quartet last summer expressed that continuing on the current course will make the prospect of two states living side by side in peace and security “increasingly remote”. This is why all sides need to avoid acts that are harmful to the peace process.

I am deeply concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing. It is clear that the blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services. I agree that these restrictions should be eased and I know that the UK has consistently urged the Israeli Government to ease movement and access restrictions.

I believe Israel should cease the policy of illegal settlement construction and expansion, and the designating of land for exclusive Israeli use. The Palestinian Authority should also act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to stop incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.

The UK supported UNSCR 2334 on 23 December 2016, which the British Ambassador to the UN described as “a clear reinforcement” of the view that a two-state solution remains the only viable route to a sustained peace. As you may be aware, the resolution reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal. The recent announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in the West Bank undermines still further the prospect of a two-state solution to this conflict.

A two-state solution that recognises the importance of security and stability, and guarantees a viable future for both Palestinians and Israelis must remain the goal of the international community. It is therefore essential that the UK Government continues to support dialogue and fully back all initiatives to keep the two-state solution alive.

I also strongly agree that any trade deal struck by the British Government should have human rights at the heart of it, and I am pleased such a commitment has made it into Labour’s General Election manifesto.

I know from the many letters and e-mails I receive that there are very strong views on this matter. I can assure you that if I’m re-elected I will continue to press the Government on the actions it is taking and follow any developments closely and with interest.

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East Dunbartonshire

John Nicolson, SNP candidate:

Thank you for your email.

I have a long running interest in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

As a journalist I filmed in the region, and interviewed many of the major political players. As an MP I chose Palestine and Israel for my first foreign trip.

I agree with you completely about the importance of the two state solution, though I fear that political intransigence makes such a solution increasingly remote.

The UK can and should play an important role in pushing forward the peace process. I am often disappointed however by the standard of debate at Westminster; many MPs from across the political parties spout entrenched positions, often without any deep knowledge of the political complexities or history of the peoples concerned.

I always urge my fellow MPs to visit, preferably with an aid organisation rather than a political grouping and when there to talk to as many people as possible across the political spectrum.

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Enfield Southgate

David Flint, Green candidate:

Thanks for your letter. I reply with some feeling as a man with some Jewish ancestry though not a member of any Jewish community. I have signed your statement though I have this reservation about the 2 state solution: I think the solution should be decided by negotiation between Jews and Palestinians and not by outsiders.

On your points:

  • I agree that there is a pressing need for a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, its been pressing for a very long time.
  • What can the UK do over the next 5 years to promote a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? We should support civil society in the Palestinian territories and oppose violence and breaches of human rights by all parties.
  • How to promote a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Neither side is blameless but I see Israeli intransigence as the key barrier. I would therefore try to persuade the USA to withdraw its subsidies to Israel.  Israel must negotiate in good faith.

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Finchley & Golders Green

Jonathan Davies, Liberal Democrat candidate:

I agree with you that finding a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must remain a priority for UK foreign policy.  I deeply regret that BREXIT means Britain is likely to lose influence over the Middle East peace process.  The EU is a member of the negotiating Quartet, and that includes Britain.  Once Britain leaves the EU it will no longer have a role in the Quartet, and I fear its influence will be marginalised.

The only solution to the Israel Palestinian conflict can be a two state solution in which Israel and Palestine both exist with secure boundaries recognised in international law with normal relations (including diplomatic and trade relations) between them and with their neighbours. I hope the UK Government will do all in its power to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve such a solution.

For your information, the Liberal Democrats manifesto says the Party will:

“Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. We condemn disproportionate force used by all sides. We condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and other targeting of Israeli civilians. We condemn Israel’s continued illegal policy of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution. We support recognition of the independent State of Palestine as and when it will help the prospect of a two-state solution.”

Jeremy Newmark, Labour candidate:

Thanks for getting in touch. This is an issue very close to my heart, and one that has taken centre stage in much of my working life. I agree wholeheartedly that a political solution is needed imminently, and I believe the next government can, over the next five years, press urgently for an immediate renewal to negotiations, and help ensure that those negotiations have meaningful consequences. A Labour government will be committed to achieving both of these things, as diplomacy is the only authentic solution to the conflict. There can be no military solution, and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. That means an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. If elected I will do all I can in parliament to press for such urgent negotiations and will seek to bring together people from both sides of the conflict to ensure both that people who need their voices heard have an ear in Westminster, and that we can find middle ground and conciliation where the opportunities exist. Specifically I would like to see the formation of an all-party Parliamentary Group in support of the two-state solution – this would be a constructive move away from the Parliamentary battles you refer to and towards greater support for a political resolution.

I consider myself to be a strong supporter of the work of Yachad.

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Hampstead and Kilburn

Tulip Siddiq, Labour candidate:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I know of the great work Yachad does and would like to begin this email by commending the organisation’s efforts to bring about more nuanced advocacy in the Israel-Palestine debate in the UK.

I share the frustration and disappointment expressed by many at the lack of progress on the Middle East Peace Process, and I strongly believe that a negotiated two-state solution is in the interests of both Israel and the Palestinians.

A report by the Middle East Quartet last summer expressed that continuing on the current course will make the prospect of two states living side by side in peace and security “increasingly remote”. This is why all sides need to avoid acts that are harmful to the peace process.

I believe Israel should cease the policy of illegal settlement construction and expansion, and the designating of land for exclusive Israeli use. The Palestinian Authority should also act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to stop incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.

A two-state solution that recognises the importance of security and stability, and guarantees a viable future for both Palestinians and Israelis must remain the goal of the international community. It is therefore essential that the UK Government continues to support dialogue and fully back all initiatives to keep the two-state solution alive.

I know from the many letters and e-mails I receive that there are very strong views on this matter. I can assure you that I will continue to press the next Government on the actions it is taking and follow any developments closely and with interest.

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Ilford North

Wes Streeting, Labour candidate

Thank you for writing to me seeking my views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the general election campaign I’ve received a range of campaign messages via different organisations on the topic, each of which will receive the same reply so that everyone knows where I stand.

The week of the general election will mark 50 years since the Six Day War. Since then, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed thousands of lives and the prospect of peace seems elusive five decades later.

I strongly support a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and a shared capital in Jerusalem. I believe this to be the only viable solution that would work in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. Despite the fact that a two-state solution remains the preferred outcome for a majority of both Palestinians and Israelis, the obstacles are well known. They include, but are not limited to, poor political leadership and missed opportunities, a cycle of violence claiming the lives of innocent Israelis and Palestinians, the ongoing military occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, and the refusal of people in the region to accept Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own.

I have visited Israel and the West Bank on three occasions over the past ten years. My first visit was with the Union of Jewish Students and my most recent visit last year was with Medical Aid for Palestinians and CAABU. During that time I’ve met with political leaders, civil society and trade union leaders, the families of those who have lost their lives on both sides, grassroots activists for peace and a range of NGOs.

For Israelis, a safe and secure two-state solution must include recognition of Israel’s right to exist by her neighbours and by Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza, the end of rocket attacks and incitement of violence against Israeli citizens. For Palestinians, a safe and secure two-state solution must include the withdrawal of Israeli settlements and an end to the military occupation, an end to the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and international support to build the Palestinian economy and state infrastructure.

So much of this has been obvious for so long and yet the prospects of a two-state solution seem worryingly distant. That’s why, in my first two years as Ilford North’s Member of Parliament, I’ve spoken out against the injustices that serve as barriers to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

I’ve been an outspoken critic of Israeli settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian homes, because I believe these policies are an intolerable infringement on Palestinian human rights and also represent a considerable threat to the longer term security of Israel. Settler violence has gone unchecked for too long by an Israeli government that has been willing to turn a blind eye and a military court system that treats Palestinians as second-class citizens and goes against the principles of natural justice.

I’ve also spoken out against the incitement of violence against Israelis, much of it now conducted online, that has resulted in the stabbing of Israeli citizens on the streets of cities like Jerusalem. I also condemn rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and continued attempts to ship arms into Gaza for use against Israeli towns and villages.

One of the ways that we can create conditions for peace is by bringing together Palestinians and Israelis at a grassroots level. That’s why I was one of the supporters of a parliamentary Bill to establish an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, that would bring together people-to-people through a range of co-existence projects. I believe that such initiatives do more to build the conditions for peace than boycotts and sanctions. For example, a number of UK universities bring together Israeli and Palestinian academics and students on joint collaboration projects.

Ultimately, a two-state solution will only be achieved through face-to-face negotiation between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The UK should do whatever we can to bring about those negotiations urgently, but the responsibility ultimately rests with Israeli and Palestinian political leaders, who have failed their people for far too long.

This is a goal that Friends of Israel and Friends of Palestine should continue to push for. I consider myself a friend of both.

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