An early-day motion proposed by Phyllis Starkey on settlement goods labelling will actually be discussed in Parliament on 2nd December:
That this House endorses the call by President Obama for a full and complete freeze on all Israeli settlement building in occupied territories, including natural growth; notes that all settlements including outposts are explicitly illegal under international law and exist in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions; further notes that they are a major obstacle to peace and a meaningful two state solution which includes a viable, independent sovereign Palestinian state; and welcomes the Government’s call for such a total freeze on settlement activity and urges the Government to do all in its power to bring this about.
Please ask your MP to attend the debate and vote the (the right way!) on this important issue. TheyWorkForYou.com makes it easy to locate your MP and send a message to him or her.
In other news, the Israeli government has announced a settlement freeze. This sounds like a very positive development, but the devil will be in the details; for example, Peace Now observes that 800 foundations have been laid in anticipation of the announcement of a freeze like this, which applies only to new starts, not to building already underway. The Peace Now posting cautiously welcoming the freeze also promises to monitor its implementation; although Peace Now has been politically insignificant for many years, monitoring settlement development has been their one strong suit.
Uri Avnery, in his assessment, doesn’t think we need to wait for the results of monitoring.
It has no real content. Building “public structures” will go on (about 300 new ones were approved just this week). Building will be continued in housing projects whose foundations have already been laid (at least 3000 apartments in the West Bank). And, most importantly: there will be absolutely no limitation to Jewish building activity in East Jerusalem, where building continues frantically in half a dozen locations in the heart of the Arab part of the city. And, besides, the suspension will last only for 10 months. Then, Begin promised, construction will be resumed in full swing.
That would not have appeased the settlers, if they did not know what every Israeli knows: that it is all phony. Building will continue everywhere, with the officials cooperating on the quiet and the army closing its eyes. It will be claimed that building permits had already been issued, that the foundations had already been laid. (In many places extra foundations have indeed been laid, just in case.) That’s the way it was in the past, under the governments of Labor and Kadima, and that’s the way it will continue now. This week it became known that in the whole of the West Bank, just 14 (fourteen!) government inspectors are supervising all building activity.
The British government has responded to (and commented implicitly) on Israel’s announcement. In his response, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said:
Britain continues to call for a full settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including so-called ‘natural growth’, in accordance with the responsibilities set for both sides in the 2003 Roadmap. Settlements are illegal.