Tensions in Israel and Palestine

I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are extremely concerned about the recent abduction and killing of three young Israeli men in the West Bank this week and the subsequent retaliatory killings of Palestinians.

There was an Urgent Question in Parliament on Tuesday to the Foreign Office about this issue, at which I put on the record my heartfelt sympathy to the grief-stricken families of these abducted and murdered young men. What has been done to them has no conceivable justification of any kind. I also sent my sympathy to the families of the Palestinians whom Israeli troops murdered during their search for the missing youths in a collective punishment which has involved hundreds of arrests and the looting and ransacking of houses. Nothing whatsoever can justify the murder of the Israeli young men, but it is very important indeed to see it in the context of a conflict that will go on until there is a fair settlement.

The urgent priority is to hold those responsible to account under the rule of law, whilst de-escalating tensions in the region. I believe that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must continue to work together to find the perpetrators. It is also vital that all parties avoid action that could escalate the situation further. All investigations and security operations must be handled with care and restraint.

It is too early to be clear about the full implications for the Middle East peace process, but I hope very much that there will soon be a return to negotiations on a two-state solution, which is, and remains, the only way to resolve this conflict once and for all.

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