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Ed Miliband condemns new Israeli settlements

Labour leader Ed Miliband has condemned the expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank and warned they pose a "mortal threat" to hopes of securing a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict.

Ed Miliband has met children in the West Bank today Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mr Miliband, who is an atheist of Jewish descent, said he was a supporter of "the homeland for the Jewish people" but has made clear he does not give blanket backing to the actions of the Israeli government.

The Labour leader made his strongest criticism yet during a visit to the Middle East, blasting the policy as "wrong and illegal."

The Labour leader said: "What I have seen today shows that the expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank is not only wrong and illegal but represents a mortal threat to the two-state solution and to a successful outcome of the peace process."

He is on the last leg of a three-day visit and will stay overnight in Ramallah, in central West Bank, tonight - the first leading British politician to be able to do so as a result of improved security conditions.

Cameron and Miliband trade blows over Miller row

David Cameron and Ed Miliband traded blows today over the Prime Minister's handling of the controversy over Maria Miller's expenses claims.

During Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader accused Mr Cameron of being an "apologist for unacceptable behaviour" and of failing to understand the public outcry over the affair.

While the Prime Minister suggested there was a lesson to be learned about loyalty and not rushing to judgement, Mr Miliband claimed his answer showed Mr Cameron thought the former Culture Secretary "did nothing wrong".

Mr Cameron hit back, accusing Mr Miliband of being opportunistic and claiming he was jumping on a "political bandwagon" after "the whole circus has left town".

Read: Maria Miller resigns as Culture Secretary

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Government: Already helping firms 'get fairer deal'

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said that a cross-industry working group had already been set up to address key issues of concern, including improving options for repaying back-dated bills.

Small businesses deserve a fairer and more transparent energy market to help ensure they are getting the best energy deal.

Today's announcement of the first ever market reference for the energy market will help small businesses as well as householders get a fairer deal on their energy.

– DECC spokesman

Miliband: Energy prices 'unfair' to small businesses

Ed Miliband is due to say today:

It is unacceptable that companies like yours do not have even basic protections that are available to households under the law from unfair energy contracts.

– Ed Miliband

Labour would also give business organisations like the FSB new legal rights to take cases - such as late payment by firms or government departments - to court on behalf of their members.

It would also invite the FSB to join Which? and Citizens Advice in helping to set the agenda for the Competition and Markets Authority's investigations to ensure markets were working properly in the interests of consumers and businesses.

Miliband promises business protection from fuel costs

Ed Miliband will speak at FSB conference in Manchester. Credit: PA

Labour leader Ed Miliband is to make a fresh attempt to reach out to business with a promise to protect small firms from "unfair" treatment at the hands of the energy companies.

In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Manchester, he will say that a Labour government would reform the energy market to ensure small firms were given the same legal protections as householders.

These would include establishing a new energy regulator with powers to suppliers from rolling firms on to more expensive tariffs without their consent or hitting them with "crippling" back-bills for periods of longer than a year.

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Labour: Govt energy price freeze argument 'demolished'

Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed the Government's arguments against an energy price freeze have been "totally demolished" by ministers' backing for SSE's own version of the policy.

At Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader leapt on the proposal from the Big Six firm to freeze its prices until January 2016.

He asked David Cameron: "Would we be right to assume that the Prime Minister believes that this price freeze is unworkable, impossible to implement and probably a communist plot?"

However, the Prime Minister insisted measures to cut green tariffs were part of the Government's economic plan and insisted the policies were working.

Watch: SSE boss claims Miliband 'changed the way people look at energy market'

SSE boss: 'We agreed with Ed' over energy prices

The boss of the energy firm SSE has told ITV News' Business Editor Joel Hills he supports Labour leader Ed Miliband's pledged to freeze prices if he came to power:

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"We agree with Ed", SSE boss agrees @ed_miliband speech last Sept a defining moment. "Changed the way people look at the energy market"

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Boss of SSE tells me that in the last year he has lost "several hundred thousand customers".

Miliband: SSE shows I was right to call for a price freeze

Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship is watching Prime Minister's Questions:

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Ed Miliband claims SSE price freeze shows he was right to call for it last year. Cameron claims SSE doing it cos govt removed green tariffs

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Cameron uses EdM difficulties in his answer: They support him in here then brief against him outside #pmqs

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Tory MPs shout "weak" at Miliband. Lab leader retorts "I'll tell them what's weak- it's not standing up to energy companies" #pmqs

Watch PMQs live **

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