MONDAY 22 JUNE 2015
- Andrew Smith: What steps has Foreign Secretary taken (a) unilaterally and (b) with EU colleagues to help to lift the blockade of Gaza and allow unrestricted access for humanitarian aid and reconstruction?
- Andrew Smith: When did Foreign Secretary last discuss (a) Gaza and (b) Israeli settlements with his colleagues in the EU; and what was the outcome of those discussions on each such topic?
Nos 1-2 Commons Written Answers
- The Work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
– Lord Forsyth: In France the position now is peaceful but the commission also operates in some very dangerous locations, such as Gaza and the Sudan. (passage omitted) Less well known are the operations in Palestine, Salonika, East Africa and north Italy—the forgotten corners of some foreign fields. There is the security challenge that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has to meet in Libya, Syria, Gaza, Yemen, and in Iraq, where there are 54,000 Commonwealth war dead at 13 sites. (edited extract)
– Earl Howe [replying for the Government]: Some places, such as Palestine, Salonika, east Africa and northern Italy, despite being significant visitor destinations, get few or no pilgrims to the war graves there. We would like to encourage visitors to take some time out when abroad, see if there is a British cemetery nearby and, if so, visit it. The level of sacrifice in both world wars is such that there are a very large number of such locations. (extract)
- Baroness Tonge: Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 2 June (HL10), what is HMG’s assessment of the cause of the conflict in Gaza, and in particular the effect of Israel’s military occupation; and what improvements in living standards have been delivered to the people of Gaza following Israel’s lifting of certain restrictions?
- Lord Hylton: Do HMG accept the RAND Corporation’s calculation of the benefits that would follow a full solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine; and will they discuss those findings with both sides?
Nos 4-5 Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 23 JUNE 2015
- Andrew Smith: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the implications for (a) UK and (b) EU policy of the recent report by the World Bank to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee which concluded that Gaza is on the verge of collapse?
- Daniel Poulter: What reports has Foreign Secretary received on the test-firing of rockets into the Mediterranean sea by Hamas?
- Andrew Smith: Will Foreign Secretary make representations to the Israeli government on attempts to transfer Bedouin families from the South Hebron Hills to near Jericho?
- Daniel Poulter: What recent reports has Foreign Secretary received on the construction of cross-border tunnels along the Israel-Gaza border by Hamas?
- Matthew Offord: What is DfID Secretary’s policy on providing funding to non-governmental organisations and charities that promote boycotts or sanctions against Israel?
- Andrew Smith: What arrangements are in place to prevent companies involved in violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories from benefitting from contracts funded by DfID for humanitarian relief in Gaza?
Nos 1-6 Commons Written Answers
- Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [HL]:
– Lord Hope [drawing attention to paragraphs 120 and 121 of the Report of the Joint Committee on the draft protection of charities Bill, which he chaired until recently]: In paragraph 120, we refer to evidence from the Charity Law Association. It told us that, in its view,
“the wording of this power was ‘very wide’ and that it had concerns about how conduct would be deemed relevant for consideration by the Commission”,
if it was given that very wide power. In paragraph 121, we referred to the Muslim Charities Forum—this is on page 41 of the report—which expressed a concern that,
“the provision would allow the Commission to pass judgment on the political views of charity trustees, potentially infringing upon freedom of association and expression”.
A particular concern—and we quote from its evidence—was that trustees might, in a personal capacity,
“express support for Palestinian Statehood, speak out against the crack-down on Freedom of Association in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, or merely voice their anger at aspects of Western foreign policy”.
That could all,
“potentially fall under the net of supporting terrorism and/or extremism”.
It would then fall within the very broad description which is given in the two paragraphs to which these amendments refer.
I have to confess that we did not make any specific recommendation in our report. However, in paragraph 124, we state:
“we share the concerns of the JCHR and other witnesses about the risks associated with the power and its lack of clarity.”
Lords Grand Committee
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel on the subject of that country helping with the funding of UNRWA?
Lords Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 2015
- Andrew Smith: What discussion has Foreign Secretary had with his counterparts in other EU member states on policy responses by the EU to the recent report by the World Bank to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee which concluded that Gaza is on the verge of collapse?
- Bob Blackman: What is Foreign Secretary’s policy on proposals to introduce EU sanctions on Israeli products?
- Andrew Smith: What information does DfID hold on how many houses have been built in Gaza to replace those destroyed during Operation Protective Edge; and what proportion that number is of the number destroyed?
Nos 1-3 Commons Written Answers
- Debate on the Question, tabled by Baroness Falkner: What assessment have HMG made of the political situation in Syria?
– Baroness Tonge: Last week I was in Lebanon, visiting refugee camps there, and I want to take this opportunity to highlight the plight of the Palestinians among the millions of refugees fleeing Syria. I met people whose families had fled Palestine during the Nakba in 1948 and found shelter in Iraq but 10 years ago had had to flee Iraq as well, following the war waged against Saddam Hussein. They had made their homes in Syria, where they were very well treated by the Government, until rebel groups infiltrated the Yarmouk camp and catastrophe occurred once more. They were refugees again, for the third time in a generation. They are now trying to live in Lebanon. Their entire support is coming from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency—UNRWA—because they are not allowed to work by the Lebanese Government; they are not given work permits. They live among other Palestinians in converted sheds and animal shelters, which I visited, that UNRWA and the NGOs have managed to make just about habitable. They have no means of support and have been dependent on monthly cash handouts from UNRWA to cover food costs and rent. Unrest is developing very quickly in the camps because UNRWA has had to tell the refugees that these cash handouts will have to stop at the end of June because it has run out of funds.
UNRWA was set up as a temporary organisation in 1948 to help refugees from the Nakba. It is still struggling to cope 60 years later. The UK is the third-largest funder of UNRWA, and we should be proud of what we have done, but we need to address this shortfall in funding before unrest spills over into serious violence and fighting in Lebanon itself. Can the Minister tell us what the Government intend to do to avert this cash shortage? For instance, will pressure be put on the Gulf states to help? Finally—she will expect me to say this—will she not admit that the creation of a secure homeland for the Palestinians is now more needed than ever, and that our Government should encourage this by recognising the state of Palestine? This would be a huge contribution to peace in the wider Middle East.
- Lord Warner: What actions do HMG plan to take with international partners to support the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to Gaza?
- Lord Warner: What representations have HMG made to the government of Israel about allowing the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza without intervention by Israel’s military services?
- Lord Warner: What actions have HMG taken to secure the end of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and to monitor the extent of international aid arriving in Gaza as a result of the last cease-fire agreement?
- Baroness Tonge: In the light of the signed declaration by Hamas and other militant groups that they will accept a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC), what discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel following its reported statement that the ICC has no authority to consider Palestinian complaints because Palestine is not a state?
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel regarding its policy on child detention, in the light of the 1,266 detentions by Israel of Palestinians under the age of 15 documented by the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2014; and what recommendations from the 2012 report Children in Military Custody have so far been adopted?
- Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with the government of Israel regarding its use of soldiers from the Israeli Defence Forces to expel 200 Palestinians from the pool and park in the occupied village of al Karmil in order for Israeli settlers to use the park’s facilities?
- Baroness Tonge: In the light of the Rand Corporation’s report that a peace settlement would boost both the Israeli and Palestinian economies, what pressure do HMG plan to put on the government of Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory; and what assessment have they made of the potential saving to the United Kingdom aid budget over 10 years if the West Bank and Gaza were to develop their own economy?
- Baroness Tonge: What support do HMG plan to give to France regarding its draft resolution to time limit renewed negotiations for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine?
Nos 5-12 Lords Written Answers
THURSDAY 25 JUNE 2015
- Daniel Poulter: What assessment has DfID Secretary made of the use by Hamas of UK and UN humanitarian aid?
Commons Written Answers