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1.1   Government policy on Israel and the Palestinians

The UK Government considers that a two-state solution represents the best framework to end the occupation and deliver peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

In July 2020 the Government also set out its overall policy on the Israel/Palestine dispute:

The UK continues to support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair and realistic settlement for refugees.

Until that happens, the UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the region.

The policy statement accompanied an announcement that the UK was increasing funding for the UNRWA, the UN’s agency for supporting Palestinian refugees. £33.5 million of extra UK funding brought the UK’s total contribution to UNRWA for 2020 to £34.5 million.

1.2   International Fund for Israel-Palestinian Peace

The International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace is promoted  by the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), which describes itself as “the largest and fastest growing network of Palestinian and Israeli peacebuilders”. It nurtures people-to-people contacts and campaigns to work towards conflict resolution.

ALLMEP does not intend to administer the fund itself. The NGO focuses its work on people under the age of 30. These are the least likely to have had contact with members of the other community and are most likely to reject the other side out of hand: “over 60% of both young Palestinians and Israelis believe the ultimate intent of the other is the removal of their rights or the destruction of their society”.

The fund is inspired by the International Fund for Ireland, which helped end the violence in Northern Ireland. The organisation claims that successive academic studies have shown that such programmes work:

People-to-people peacebuilding programs have been shown to disrupt and reverse many of these attitudes and beliefs that fuel the conflict. We know that they transform the course of individuals’ lives, yet we have never funded them at the level where they can transform communities, or entire societies.

Speaking for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office In 2018, Baroness Goldie said that the UK Government supports the idea:

The UK believes in the work that ALLMEP conducts and we support its objectives. ALLMEP’s work in developing an international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace is a concept that the UK supports.

According to press reports, Labour Friends of Israel is organising a campaign in favour of the Fund.

In July 2020, the US House of Representatives passed the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, an amendment to the 2021 House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would provide some $250 million in funding for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding and Palestinian economic development.

1.3   Conflict, Security and Stability Fund for the Middle East Peace Process

This programme, which runs from 2019-22, was designed to help protect the political and physical viability of a two-state solution.

It is complementary to DFID’s broader programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

It was designed to contribute to three main objectives:

  1. Building effective and accountable Palestinian institutions ready for statehood, supportive of UK values and interests, and resilient to political transition;
  2. Protecting and assisting vulnerable communities to preserve the viability of a two-state solution, to uphold international humanitarian law and respond to arising needs;
  3. Supporting Palestinian Authority and civil society (Israeli and Palestinian) to work for peace, maintaining and increasing political support for a two-state solution.

The reasons for UK funding are concerns about the high risk of instability in the OPTs and potential overspill of violence into Israel.

Issues of concern include:

  • violence and terrorist attacks against Israelis,
  • shootings of Gazans during recent protests,
  • a deterioration of conditions for Palestinians on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank (including a surge in demolitions of Palestinian structures and settlement expansion in the West Bank), and
  • a continued decline of public confidence and support for a negotiated solution.

The Government says that it has the ability to influence both sides to the conflict as a result of strong bilateral relationships, strong engagement with communities throughout Israeli society, and its leading role in building the capacity of a future Palestinian state.

The expected outcomes from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) are set out as follows:

  • Perceptions of corruption in Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions tackled, and their transparency improved.
  • Effective legal assistance provided to Palestinians at risk of displacement.
  • Key infrastructure, particularly electricity provision, constructed in isolated parts of Area C, to facilitate continued Palestinian presence on their land.
  • Positive perceptions of, and strengthened support for, the 2SS amongst key religious and other relevant Israeli constituencies.
  • Under pressure Israeli organisations that advocate within Israeli society for Palestinians’ rights are protected.
  • Closer links between the West Bank and Gaza at the societal level promoted, to facilitate a later successful political reconciliation.
  • Palestinian women’s ability to achieve leadership positions in Palestinian society enhanced.

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