THURSDAY 19 MARCH 2015
- Jim Fitzpatrick [in Business Questions]: “I do not expect the Government to comment on the outcome of elections in other countries, but will there be a statement on Premier Netanyahu’s announcement that he will not support a two-state solution? Might the Prime Minister refer to it at the European Council and then comment on it in the House next week? The two-state solution has been the policy of the UK, the US and the EU for some time, and the statement by the Israeli premier must have disappointed the Government as much as it has disappointed so many people in this country.” [extract]
– William Hague: Support for the two-state solution is a very important part of our policy on the middle east peace process, and it is common across the House of Commons. I did a good deal of work on this as Foreign Secretary, although the greatest amount of work has been done in recent times by Secretary John Kerry and I salute all the work that he has put into the process. I have often said in the House that time was running out for a two-state solution and, sadly, that remains the case. The best opportunity to ask Ministers about this will be when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gives a statement to the House next Monday or at Prime Minister’s questions next week, when this would be a perfectly normal thing to ask him about.
Commons Oral Questions
- Lord Trimble [in “Inquiries Act 2005 (Select Committee Report)”debate]: “My last statement is by way of a digression. I referred to the commission to which I was attached as an international observer [ed: 2010 Turkel Commission set up by Israel to examine the Gaza Flotilla Raid]…… I got together with the other international observer who is domiciled in Australia but who comes to this part of the world from time to time. We both went back to his room to raise the issue with the Israeli Government as to whether they were implementing those recommendations. I suspect, though, that I will have to go back again.” [edited extract]
- Lord Roberts in a written question asked how many people received support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 in the last year, broken down by nationality. The table attached to Lord Bates’ reply shows the figure for the OPTs to be 68]
Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH 2015
- Questions to DfID Secretary:
– Lisa Nandy: What assessment has she made of the humanitarian effects of the blockade of Gaza?
– Guy Opperman: What assessment has she made of the effectiveness of the efforts made by the (a) UN and (b) UK to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza?
– Desmond Swayne: Movement restrictions damage the Gazan economy, with the result that 80% of Gazans are dependent on aid, 57% are dependent on food aid and 43% are unemployed. Most of the UK contribution to the relief effort is delivered through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and I judge that to be effective within the limitations of the funding and the movement restrictions.
– Lisa Nandy: As winter approaches, the Minister will know that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire. It is welcome that the UK has pledged £20 million to help, but what is his Government’s long-term plan, given the re-election this morning of the Prime Minister who believes that the continuation of the blockade of Gaza is a good thing; believes in the building of illegal settlements; has abandoned a two-state solution; and believes that the deaths of more than 2,000 people in Gaza last summer were “proportionate”? Surely now is the time for the Minister to put pressure on his ministerial colleagues, recognise the state of Palestine and end this appalling situation.
– DS: The hon. Lady is right in that the state of affairs in Gaza is desperate. However, on the recent events and the election, I am tempted to call in aid the wisdom of the Ents and say that we should not be hasty. It will be some time before the true policies of the new Government emerge, after long negotiations over a coalition. In the meantime, we remain committed to the two-state solution and we make our representations known on all the issues that she has raised, at the highest level.
– Guy Opperman: What specific assessment has been made of the Gaza reconstruction mechanism? How many people have been accessing the building materials?
– DS: As of this morning, more than 60,000 individuals have had access to building materials, out of the in excess of 100,000 who need such materials. I am confident that the mechanism is working effectively, but clearly there will have to be a step change in movement and access which can result only from a lasting solution.
– Andy Slaughter: Israel will have a Government opposed to a two-state solution and a Prime Minister who turned out his vote by an emergency broadcast that said: “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.” What is the international community going to do to get aid to Gaza, which is in occupation and under siege? How is the international community going to provide that aid when the occupation and siege are permanent?
– DS: A great deal of aid for Gaza was pledged at the Cairo conference. We have delivered a quarter of our pledge, and within the first few weeks of the financial year we will have delivered all of the £20 million we pledged. We have been entering into a considerable diplomatic effort to get other countries that have made pledges to step up to deliver, and I am glad to say that Qatar and Kuwait have now done so.
– Michael Fabricant: My right hon. Friend will know that some 600,000 tonnes of concrete have been used for the construction of illegal tunnels for smuggling and to enable the firing of weapons into Israel. How can he ensure that aid gets to the people who need it and not to Hamas?
– DS: One part of the Gaza reconstruction mechanism is the material monitoring unit, which my Department supports. It is designed specifically to do what my hon. Friend requests: to ensure that any materials supplied, stored and dispersed are for the proper purpose and that any infractions are reported.
– Grahame M Morris: The Minister says that we should wait and see what is going to happen in Israel, but now the mask has slipped and Netanyahu has said he will not allow a two-state solution and will not allow a Palestinian state. Is not the only solution that will relieve the suffering of the people in Gaza a concerted international action to lift the blockade?
– DS: We continue to make representations at all levels about movement restrictions, but I repeat what I have said: we will have to wait and see what the new Government’s policy is, after they emerge from the coalition negotiations.
– Julian Huppert: I share the concerns about the election results in Israel and what they mean for people in Gaza and elsewhere in that region. On a number of occasions Israel has had restrictions on parliamentarians being able to cross at the Erez checkpoint to see what is happening in Gaza. Will the Minister seek to get that changed so that people can see what is happening to the aid that we provide and to the people there?
– DS: I am aware that, like me, the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Luton South (Gavin Shuker), was recently admitted to Gaza. Such visits do involve bureaucratic obfuscation, and we will continue to make representations in that regard.
– Debbie Abrahams: One of my excellent community groups in Saddleworth supports Palestinian women into education. Members of the group inform me that one of the education centres that they know well was recently ransacked by Israeli forces. The education centre is in Palestinian territory. Does the Secretary of State agree that not only are these actions illegal, but they jeopardise future sustainable peace in the region?
– Justine Greening: Much of our work in the occupied Palestinian territories focuses on providing basic services, including education. At the Cairo conference one of the main concerns of donors was the need to end the perpetual cycle of violence, reconstruction, then destruction and violence and the need for more reconstruction. I agree with the hon. Lady that this cannot continue ad nauseam.
Commons Oral Questions
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel concerning the reported shooting of a fisherman off the coast of Gaza on 7 March and about their reported reduction of the fishing limit to four miles?
- Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the environmental consequences of the agreement between Israel and Jordan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea?
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel concerning its reported policy of setting dogs on civilians?
- Lord Alton: What proposals concerning persecution and atrocities against Christians in the Middle East do HMG intend to lay before the United Nations Security Council at its meeting on 27 March?
- Baroness Tonge: Do HMG intend to support the Palestinian Authority’s action to encourage Israel to assume all responsibilities for the Occupied Territories according to international law?
- Baroness Tonge: What action do HMG plan to take to protect Palestinian families living in East Jerusalem from the occupation and demolition of their houses?
- Lord Warner: What action are HMG taking to assist the Palestinian Authority to meet its financial obligation to its employees in the light of the refusal by the government of Israel to transfer funds collected each month on the Authority’s behalf in taxes and revenue?
Nos 2-8 Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 17 MARCH 2015
- Marquess of Lothian: Have HMG fulfilled their pledge of £20 million to kick-start Gaza’s economy made at the reconstruction conference in Cairo on 12 October 2014; how much of the total amount pledged at that conference has been paid; and what action are HMG taking to encourage other donor countries who have not yet done so to fulfil their pledges?
Lords Written Answers
- Ian Austin to Home Secretary at her hearing before the Home Affairs Committee: “The second issue I wanted to raise on counter-terrorism is: Can you tell us what’s going on with the Jenkins report into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is thought to be a fundraising coordinator for Hamas, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation?” [Theresa May refers to the PM’s Written Statement of 16.3.15: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150316/wmstext/150316m0001.htm#1503161000006]
Commons Select Committees
MONDAY 16 MARCH 2015
- Norman Baker: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the effectiveness against his objectives of Tony Blair in his role as Quartet Special Representative in the Middle East?
Commons Written Answers
- Baroness Liddell: Have HMG received any indication that the Palestinian Authority will respond to the framework document drafted by the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry; and if so, when and in what terms do they expect it to do so?
- Lord Ahmed: What support have HMG given towards a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine?
- Lord Ahmed: What is HMG’s latest assessment of the respect accorded to human rights by parties in the Israel-Palestine conflict?
- Lord Ahmed: What was discussed in the most recent talks in Brussels on further measures the European Union could take to discourage further Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and Occupied Territories?
- Baroness Ramsay: What assessment have HMG made of reports of bomb attacks against Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip?
- Lord Ahmed: What is HMG’s assessment of the role played by Hamas; and what working relations do they have with its government in Gaza?
Nos 2-7 Lords Written Answers