TUESDAY 9 JUNE 2015
- Questions to Foreign Secretary:
– Andrew Gwynne: What assessment has FCO made of the likely success of the French initiative for a UN resolution for new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians?
– Philip Hammond: We do see merit in a balanced UNSC resolution at the right moment, setting out parameters for a political settlement. But if such a resolution is to be part of a successful process, it must command the full support of the Security Council and, in particular, of the United States, which is the only power that has any leverage over Israel. Our judgment is that now is not the right moment for such an initiative, but I have regular discussions with my French and American counterparts on the middle east peace process. We will judge any proposal on the basis of whether it supports further progress in that process.
– AG: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his detailed reply. Given that Mr Fabius will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of this month to push for a United Nations Security Council resolution to revive the peace talks between the two sides, what more can the Secretary of State do to convince the United States of America and his EU counterparts that it is now crucial to get Israel and the Palestinians round the table again?
– PH: I agree with the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question: it is crucial that we move forward. The issue with timing is that until we have resolved the nuclear negotiation with Iran, which is an extremely sensitive issue in the middle east—including with Israel—our judgment is that we would be throwing away an opportunity to play an important card in the middle east peace process. We need to get the Iran thing dealt with first, and then we need to press the US Administration to deliver on the commitment that they have repeatedly made to us—that after the Israeli elections and the Israeli Government had been formed, there would be a new, American-led initiative.
– David Burrowes: What has been the impact of the unilateral action last October by Sweden to recognise the state of Palestine?
– PH: We believe that European Union countries individually unilaterally recognising Palestine is throwing away an opportunity that the European Union has to exercise leverage by collectively holding out the prospect of recognition or non-recognition as a way of influencing behaviour.
– Sir Gerald Kaufman: Last Wednesday, the Minister of State, Department for International Development, the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Mr Swayne) told the House: “The international community has recognised that the PA is now ready for statehood.” [See PU 3.6.15] When will the Government recognise the Palestinian state, in line with the vote of this House last October?
– PH: Long before the House voted last October, the Government’s position has been clear: we will recognise Palestinian statehood at a time that we judge contributes most to the delivery of an enduring settlement in the middle east.
– Philip Hollobone: What is the Foreign Secretary’s present assessment of the extent to which the Palestinian side is unified between Hamas and Fatah?
– PH: In a word, it is not.
– Cat Smith: What steps does Foreign Secretary plan to take in response to demolition of Palestinian homes to make way for Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem?
– Tobias Ellwood: Demolitions are an impediment to the two-state solution and, in all but the most limited circumstances, contrary to international humanitarian law. We have made our concerns clear to the Israeli Government, and I raised our objections with the Israeli national security adviser last week and during my visit to the occupied territories in October.
– CS: I welcome those steps, but that is broadly the same answer Ministers have been giving for a number of years. The demolitions are breaches of the fourth Geneva convention on war crimes. Given that the demolitions are continuing in spite of these steps, is it not time to consider stronger action, such as the suspension of the arms trade with Israel?
– TE: The hon. Lady is right to say that these complex issues have perplexed the House—and, indeed, the international community and the region—for a long time, but as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary articulated, we want the talks to resume as soon as possible. The Israeli elections are now out of the way and that is what we now need to be looking towards.
Commons Oral Answers
- Laurence Robertson: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of whether hon. Members and Peers will be allowed to visit Gaza?
Commons Written Answers
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG held with the government of Israel concerning the recent economic monitoring report by the World Bank regarding the economy of Gaza; and what steps are they taking to address the high level of youth unemployment in Gaza?
- Baroness Tonge: In the light of President Carter’s failed attempt to enter Gaza, what support they will give to United Kingdom Ministers who wish to assess the humanitarian situation in Gaza first-hand.
- Baroness Tonge: What steps have HMG taken in the light of their “serious concern” at the imminent destruction of the village of Susiya?
- Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel regarding the 74 Palestinians injured during the week ending 25 May, in particular an eight-year-old shot in the eye with a rubber bullet outside Shu’fat refugee camp?
- Baroness Tonge: What steps are HMG taking to support Palestinian refugees from Syria living in Lebanon following the suspension of cash assistance from the UN Relief and Works Agency for housing owing to lack of funds?
Nos 3-7 Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE 2015
- Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill:
– Lord Green of Deddington: It is no less important to be quite sure that we do not interfere with proper charitable activity in the region. I speak as a former chairman of Medical Aid for Palestinians. I am well aware of the need to ameliorate the appalling situation in which Palestinians find themselves in the Occupied Territories, and of course one need hardly mention the problems of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Sudan. Those charities must be allowed to operate. However, what we are talking about here is, frankly, dodgy trustees, and when they are detected by whatever agency, there must be powers which the Charity Commission can use to deal with it. (excerpt)
THURSDAY 11 JUNE 2015
- Developing World: Women:
– Baroness Verma [Under-Secretary of State in DfID]: Women who face poverty and social exclusion—often linked to the death of a spouse—disability or in old age, require particular support, including through social safety nets. DFID supports such women through programmes which target elderly women through social pensions; for example, the senior citizen grant in Uganda. Other vulnerable women are reached through safety nets targeted at the poorest households. For example, the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme in Gaza provides unconditional cash transfers to extremely poor households. These include female-headed households, including widows, who report that cash transfers allow them to meet the basic needs of their families and give them greater economic freedom, security and enhanced psychological well-being. (extract)
- Baroness Tonge: Following the destruction of the Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza, what assessment have HMG made of where those with neurological injuries from Operation Protective Edge are receiving treatment; and what level of rehabilitation and specialist breathing equipment is currently available to amputees and those with spinal cord injuries?
Lords Written Answers