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 Full text 
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Situation in the West Bank, in particular settlements (debate)

  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR). – Madam President, given the conflict and oppression that afflicts so many countries in the greater Middle East, I must say I find it extraordinary that this Parliament should be debating a resolution that puts in the dock the one example in the region of exceptional stability, democracy, freedom of religion and economic vitality. In spite of all the negative pressures, Israel has gone from strength to strength.

It seems that Israel’s very success is the focus of violent and frustrated envy. If we look at the Palestinian Authority, half of its territory, Gaza, is under the oppressive rule of Hamas and out of the political reach of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Hamas is becoming increasingly popular in the West Bank with a young population fed a diet of hateful propaganda towards Israel.

It need not be like this. I do not fall into the trap of imagining that settlements policy, unhelpful as it is, is the real obstacle to peace. We saw how Israel evacuated its settlements in the Sinai to facilitate peace with Egypt, and in Gaza to facilitate the ill-fated handover of that territory to the Palestinians. Of course, if there was goodwill, the elements of the two-state solution are ready and available.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 162(8))

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