LONDON: On his first visit to the region since his appointment as the UK Minister for the Middle East, Lord Ahmad will visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) to understand the challenges facing Palestinians, reinforcing the importance of the bilateral relationship and see first-hand the impact of UK development and humanitarian support in the West Bank. He will engage with the Palestinian Authority leadership, the Palestinian public, faith leaders, young people and meet with inspiring Palestinians working to create thriving and profitable businesses.
During his visit Lord Ahmad will meet with key humanitarian partners and announce £3.7m of additional funding to UNRWA to support food assistance to 1.2 million of the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Gaza.
During his time in the Old City of Jerusalem, Lord Ahmad will tour Haram Al Sharif and meet with Sheikh Azzam Al Khatib Al Tamimi, Director General of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem. He will also visit the Christian and Jewish Quarters of the city where he will reiterate the importance of the Status Quo and Jordanian custodianship over the Holy Sites in Jerusalem.
Lord Ahmad will also visit Hebron to hear about the impact of Israeli settler violence on Palestinian residents and visit an UNRWA school where he will meet with students and hear how UK aid supports the education of Palestinian boys and girls.
The Minister will visit the Royal Plastics Factory in Hebron to understand the challenges and opportunities for Palestinian businesses and see how the UK’s technical assistance programmes and diplomatic engagement are helping to support economic development. In a separate engagement he will also discuss what more the UK could do to unlock the potential of Palestinian companies with key businesspeople.
In Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, Lord Ahmad will see the impact of UK aid on vulnerable Palestinians living in Area C, who are facing the threat of eviction and demolition of their homes. He will reiterate the UK’s opposition to evictions and demolitions, which are illegal under international law in all but the most exceptional circumstances.
During the Minister’s engagements with representatives from the United Nations, Lord Ahmad will discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the OPTs and reiterate the UK’s longstanding support to UNRWA which provides essential services to Palestinian refugees across the region.
The Minister’s own interest in theology and work to promote freedom of religion and belief will be channelled into informal discussions with religious leaders and key thinkers to discuss the contribution of interfaith dialogue towards conflict resolution.
Lord Ahmad is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings with the Palestinian Authority to reiterate the UK’s continued support for the Palestinian people and for a negotiated two-state solution, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, as the only way to ensure a just and lasting peace.
Ahead of his visit, Lord Ahmad said:
“My visit comes at a difficult but important time for the Palestinian people, and I want to re-emphasise UK support to the Palestinian people and our unwavering commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the only means of ending this conflict.
“Visits to various parts of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem will allow me to witness first-hand the challenges facing Palestinians as well as to see the impact of UK funding to some of the most vulnerable.
“I look forward to discussing UK-Palestinian relations with a wide range of interlocutors over the coming days.”