Last updated on: 5/15/2008 | Author:

What Is the United Kingdom’s Position on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom, in entries accessed on its website May 16, 2007, stated the following:

Peace Process (“UK and the MEPP [Middle East Peace Process]”)

“The Middle East Peace Process remains a foreign policy priority for this Government. Violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories has caused an immense loss of life, humanitarian suffering and economic hardship. A solution to this conflict is crucial both for Israelis and Palestinians, and for broader prospects of long-term peace in the region. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are committed, along with international partners, to achieving the vision of a two-state solution: a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian state, alongside a secure Israel.

Actions by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have contributed to the crisis that has characterised their relationship in recent years. The PA has needed to do much more to prevent terrorist acts that have only strengthened the conviction among Israelis that Palestinians are not interested in peace. Israel has also taken actions that have compounded Palestinians’ sense of frustration and hopelessness. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) operations have resulted in civilian casualties and destroyed Palestinian homes and agricultural land. All this has made a comprehensive settlement more difficult to achieve.

But there have been real signs of progress recently. The meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas on 23 December 2006 presented a powerful signal of their mutual determination to find a way forward. Israel also agreed to release $100 million in Palestinian tax revenue and ease restrictions on movement and access. But it is clear that challenges remain.”

Final Status Negotiations (“Plans for Resolution of the Conflict”)

“We are committed to reviving final status negotiations as soon as realistically possible. The path towards this is through the Quartet (US, UN, EU, Russia) Roadmap. The Roadmap sets out the steps the Palestinian Authority and Israel need to take, under the auspices of the Quartet, to achieve a negotiated settlement. Both sides have accepted the Roadmap and have given public commitments to implement it. The Government firmly believes that the Roadmap is the best route to achieve peace in the Middle East.

There is a clear international consensus on what a negotiated settlement might look like. The key elements will include an end to occupation, the exchange of ‘land for peace’ leading to a viable state of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, both secure and respected within recognised borders, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, 1435 and 1515. It should also build on Crown Prince Abdullah’s initiative, adopted by the Arab League in Beirut on 28 March 2002, which offers full normalisation of relations between the Arab States and Israel, in the context of a final settlement.

The issues of permanent status, including that of territory, are for negotiation between the parties. It is not for the UK to prescribe the form of any Palestinian state.

Jerusalem has a unique religious and cultural importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and we attach great importance to ensuring access to Jerusalem and freedom of worship there for those of all faiths. We regard the status of Jerusalem as still to be determined, in permanent status negotiations between the parties. We do not support any action that predetermines the final status of Jerusalem. Pending agreement, we recognise de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem and consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. We recognise no sovereignty over the city. At Camp David and Taba discussion was on the basis that the capitals on both sides would be based in Jerusalem. We believe the parties should proceed on that basis.

The fate of the Palestinian refugees is important to Palestinians, Israelis and regional States such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. A just resolution of the refugee issue must be agreed consistent with UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), which calls for the right of return, and compensation, for Palestinian refugees. We believe that a solution can be agreed and implemented without threatening the existence or character of the State of Israel.”

Jerusalem (“The UK position on Jerusalem”)

“Jerusalem was supposed to be a ‘corpus separatum’, or international city administered by the UN. But this was never set up as immediately after the UNGA resolution partitioning Palestine, Israel occupied West Jerusalem and Jordan occupied East Jerusalem (including the Old City). We recognised the de facto control of Israel and Jordan, but not sovereignty. In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, which we continue to consider is under illegal military occupation by Israel. Our Embassy to Israel is in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. In East Jerusalem we have a Consulate-General, with a Consul-General who is not accredited to any state: this is an expression of our view that no state has sovereignty over Jerusalem. The UK position was formally expressed in April 1950, when HMG extended simultaneous de jure recognition to both Jordan and Israel. However, the statement withheld recognition of the sovereignty of either Jordan or Israel over the sectors of the city which each then held, within the area of the corpus separatum as stipulated in UN General Assembly Resolution 303 (IV) of 1949. In the British view, no such recognition was possible before a final determination of the status of this area, although HMG did recognise that both Jordan and Israel exercised ‘de facto authority’ over those parts of the city and area which each held.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the whole city, taking possession of the Jordanian (East) sector to add to West Jerusalem, which it already held. The Israeli government immediately extended its civil law to the whole city, simultaneously greatly enlarging the municipal boundaries into the West Bank. This purported annexation of East Jerusalem was reaffirmed in 1980 when Israel enacted its ‘Jerusalem Law’, formally declaring East and West Jerusalem together, ‘whole and united’, to be ‘the capital of Israel’.

The UK rejects these Israeli measures to change the status of Jerusalem. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 478 of 1980 in response to the Israeli annexation, declaring it to be a violation of international law; the British Government has reiterated and amplified this position many times since. HMG’s formal position is based on the 1950 statement: it recognises that Israel exercises de facto authority in West Jerusalem and, from 1950 to 1967, recognised that Jordan exercised de facto authority in East Jerusalem. Since the war of 1967, HMG has regarded Israel as being in military occupation of East Jerusalem, and in this connection subject to the rules of law applicable to such an occupation, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. HMG also holds that the provisions of Security Council Resolution 242 on the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war applies to East Jerusalem. The Venice Declaration and subsequent statements (both by the UK alone and with EU partners) have made clear that no unilateral attempts to change the status of Jerusalem are valid. The UK believes that the city’s status has yet to be determined, and maintains that it should be settled in an overall agreement between the parties concerned, but considers that the city should not again be divided.

The British Government supports the right of the Palestinian people to establish a sovereign and independent Palestinian state and looks forward to early fulfilment of this right, provided there is a concomitant recognition of Israel’s right as a state, and the right of its citizens to live in peace with security.”

Palestinian Financial Aid (“UK Financial Support to the Palestinian People”)

“In 2006, we gave £30 million [approximately equal to U.S. $51.56 million, at a 2006 exchange rate of U.K. £1 = U.S. $1.7185] bilaterally and an additional £40 [~$68.74] million through the EU. Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, announced a 4-year, £76.6 [~$131.64] million commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in December 2006.

The EU has been proactive, creative and generous in responding to Hamas’s failure to accept the three principles set out by the Quartet and agreed by President Abbas. The European Union gave 680 million [approximately equal to U.S. $805.19 million, at a 2006 exchange rate of €1 = $1.1841] to the Palestinians in 2006, more than in any previous year.

The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) delivers support directly to the Palestinian people. Originally agreed by the Quartet on 17 June 2006 and established by the European Commission using UK ideas, the TIM was endorsed and extended by the Quartet on 20 September 2006. The EU collectively has put more than €200 [~$236.82] million of this through the TIM. Currently, 88% of non-security sector PA employees receive allowances (77,000 employees), 72,000 of the most vulnerable Palestinians, while over 4.6 million litres of fuel have been provided for water, sanitation, hospitals and primary health care centres in Gaza and 27.6 million litres to ensure the continued operation of the Gaza Power Plant. The UK has contributed a total of £12 [~$20.62] million to the TIM.”

May 16, 2007