James Cleverly blocked from West Bank Area C visit over security concerns

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James Cleverly blocked from West Bank Area C visit over security concerns

The foreign secretary was prevented from visiting Palestinians in the Israeli controlled Area C region of the West Bank last month after officials raised security concerns

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

James Cleverly delivers speech in Israel
James Cleverly delivers speech in Israel

James Cleverly was prevented from visiting Palestinian towns in Area C of the West Bank on his most recent visit to the region after Israeli officials raised concerns about security issues.

The foreign secretary had visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories last month on a programme that had been put together in conjunction with the host authorities.

As part of this schedule, which takes into account the UK’s priorities as well as security and logistical considerations, Cleverly had been scheduled to meet with Palestinians in Area C, the fully Israeli-controlled territory in the West Bank.

The Conservative minister is believed to have intended to engage with Palestinians living in the region, which comprises 60 per cent of the West Bank, to hear reports of settler violence.

Sources said he intended to visit the West Bank village of Ein Samiya, which has seen a series of clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the past few years.

But he was informed that the visit had been blocked on the advice of Israeli security officials.

It is understood that Cleverly still engaged with Palestinian communities affected by settler violence during his visit when in Ramallah.

He also made clear in is diplomatic engagements that the UK’s view that settlements are illegal under international law.

Israel’s Walla News had initially reported that foreign ministers of European countries from entering certain Palestinian towns in the West Bank in recent weeks, sparking questions about the identity of the trio.

Jewish News can confirm that Cleverly was one of the three foreign ministers to be told planned visits to Area C were blocked.

In his first visit to the region last month, the foreign secretary told Israel of his determination to “renew our close security partnership, in the face of unacceptable threats from the Iranian regime.”

During the two day visit he met with senior figures in both Israel and the occupied territories including Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh, “to encourage dialogue and cooperation to end the cycle of violence.”

Speaking at the Conservative Friends of Israel reception on Monday night, Cleverly poured scorn on claims Israel was an “apartheid state.”

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