As a member of the Northampton Al Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association I wrote to the Foreign Office asking them to support a boycott of Israeli goods as a protest against the further encroachment by the settlers on Palestinian territory. This is the reply I received.
06 November 2015
Dear Ms Stone,
Thank you for your email of 15 October to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) about Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The Near East Department in the FCO has been asked to reply.
In the highly polarised debate on Israel and Palestine, the Government is acutely aware of the need for balance. I would therefore like to reassure you that the UK in no way seeks to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As friends of both we feel able to deliver the frank messages that both sides need to hear.
I can assure you that the UK follows the situation in the OPTs very closely and is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the OPTs. We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Israel with regard to the implementation of those obligations and regularly and robustly raise our serious concerns on issues relating to Israeli actions in the OPTs. The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the UK enabled us to raise with Mr Netanyahu, those issues on which we disagree with the Israeli Government.
The Government understands your wish to bring pressure to bear on the parties to return to negotiations and for human rights in the OPTs to improve by introducing a boycott on goods from Israel. However the UK’s position on boycotts is clear. While we do not hesitate to express disagreement with Israel whenever we feel it necessary, we are firmly opposed to boycotts. We believe that imposing sanctions on Israel or supporting anti-Israeli boycotts would not support our efforts to progress the peace process and achieve a negotiated solution.
Every Israeli and Palestinian has a right to live in peace and security. It is therefore vital that all parties and leaders take actions and use words which will encourage calm and decrease tensions. We will continue our longstanding policy of supporting a negotiated two state solution as the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all. We do not underestimate the challenges, but if both parties show bold leadership, peace is possible. The UK is ready to do all it can to support this goal.
On behalf of the
Near East Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office