UK urges Palestinian leaders to make Trump a peace plan counteroffer

The UK has urged the Palestinian authorities to make a counteroffer to Donald Trump’s controversial peace plan.

The US president’s plan for a solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict would foresee the eventual creation of a Palestinian state but it falls far short of Palestinian demands and would leave sizeable chunks of the occupied West Bank in Israeli hands.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the UK position “has not changed” but he urged Palestinian leaders to engage with President Trump and submit a counteroffer as he is “someone that likes to make a deal”.

During a Commons debate on Palestine, Mr Cleverly said: “We desire a stable, secure and peaceful two-state solution.

“A thriving Israel next door to a thriving Palestine based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as a shared capital of both states, with fair, agreed and realistic settlements for refugees and we continue to believe a two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution for the area.”

He added: “There is an opportunity now and we have encouraged the Palestine Authority to engage with Israel and the United States, with its Arab neighbours and friends, with the UK to put an offer, a counteroffer on the table.

“We know that President Trump is someone that likes to make a deal and we strongly, strongly urge our friends in the region to take him up.”

Earlier, Labour’s Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) said the UK Government should boycott the import of goods produced by Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

He said: “The Government must ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Profiting from these products is tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime and it must stop.

“When we trade with these settlements we are essentially telling the world that international law does not matter and such trade legitimises and facilitates the existence and expansion of the settlements.

“In 2014, it was right that the UK as part of the European Union prohibited trade with Crimea following its illegal annexation by Russia. It is crucial that we are consistent in our application of international law.”

He added: “The constant flouting of UN resolutions and the fourth Geneva convention have undermined the rules-based order for decades and the international community can no longer just look the other way.

“Both sides in this conflict have witnessed horrific bloodshed and both sides deserve an end to the fear and suffering they have had to experience.”

Tory former minister David Jones said the UK should recognise Palestine as a sovereign entity to progress two-state solution talks.

He told MPs: “This House has already voted in 2014 to recognise Palestine’s statehood and I would suggest that now is the time for the British Government to confirm that recognition.

“With Israel receiving its own recognition across the Arab world, the two-state talks would enjoy a fairer wind if the parties negotiating were sovereign entities, recognised by leading nations such as the United Kingdom with global influence.

“The position of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently been that British recognition of Palestine statehood will come when it best serves the objective of peace. That time is now.”

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran, the first MP of dual UK/Palestinian heritage, said: “There is no-one more than me and my family and my cousins and my aunts and uncles back home who want peace.

“We want peace. Of course, we want peace. Hamas does not speak for me. I stand here as a friend of Israel, as much as I am a daughter of Palestine.

“To those who suggest that this in some way is a weird thing for a Palestinian to say, most Palestinians I know, actually scrap that, all Palestinians I know recognise Israel.

“All Palestinians I know want peace and this isn’t some kind of black and white situation. That’s where we want to get to.”