MONDAY 29 JUNE 2015
- Andrew Percy: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the decision of the Palestinian Authority to pay convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons?
- Andrew Percy: What processes are in place to ensure that (a) people and (b) non-governmental organisations in the Palestinian territories receiving UK aid payments are not associated with terrorist organisations?
Commons Written Answers
TUESDAY 30 JUNE 2015
- Margaret Ritchie: What criteria will the Government use to determine the right time for the UK to recognise Palestine as a state? Will the Foreign Secretary make a statement?
- Bob Blackman: What discussions has Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport had with FIFA on the attempt to expel the Israel Football Association from that organisation?
Nos 1-2 Commons Written Answers
- Gaza Strip: Rafah Crossing – Question asked by Lord Hylton: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to call for the stationing of UN military observers in the Gaza Strip and the creation of a UN agency to oversee the safe passage of materials essential for reconstruction and access through the Rafah Crossing.
– Earl of Courtown: The immediate priority is for the Israelis and Palestinians to agree a long-term, durable ceasefire for Gaza that prevents a return to conflict. In the mean time, we are providing support to the UN-brokered reconstruction mechanism which is facilitating the import of construction materials into Gaza and encouraging Egypt to show maximum flexibility on opening the Rafah crossing.
– Lord Hylton: Is it not time that rather more imagination was used with regard to Gaza? Does the Minister agree that independent military advisers would prevent the endless arguments that we have had in recent years? Similarly, impartial supervision of incoming construction materials and their end uses would speed up reconstruction and reduce the harmful effects of the current blockade. Is it not true that the Rafah crossing is essential for urgent medical cases and, much more widely, for access to the outside world for the people of Gaza?
– Earl of Courtown: I carefully note what the noble Lord has said, but we hope that the Israelis and Palestinians will agree to this durable ceasefire for Gaza which will prevent a return to conflict. In the mean time, we will continue to support the UN through its various mechanisms. That includes the UN special envoy on the Gaza reconstruction mechanism, which is facilitating the import of construction materials into Gaza. The noble Lord also mentioned the Rafah crossing. It is important that those areas are opened so that the conditions in Gaza can be improved.
– Baroness Warsi: What is Her Majesty’s Government’s view on the United Nations Human Rights Council report on potential war crimes during the conflict in Gaza last year? Does the Minister accept that accountability in previous conflicts is likely to assist in preventing future conflicts? In the light of that, how does he now view the Foreign Secretary’s statement in July last year when the United Kingdom abstained on the setting-up of this report by saying that it would,
“complicate the process by introducing unnecessary new mechanisms”?
– Earl of Courtown: The noble Baroness is quite right concerning accountability: there must be a robust process of accountability given the heavy civilian death toll. That includes acts committed by Hamas and other militant groups too. We are pressing Israel to demonstrate accountability for its actions during this conflict. The noble Baroness also mentioned war crimes. Both sides of the conflict have put themselves into a position where perhaps war crimes have taken place. We of course need to keep a careful watch on this matter.
– Lord Turnberg: Is the noble Earl aware that while Egypt is busily destroying homes on its border with Gaza to try to prevent the smuggling of arms to Hamas, Israel is allowing through the Erez crossing more than 500 trucks—with 15,000 tonnes of goods, including medical aid, benzene and building materials—every day? Is he further aware that while Egypt has stopped the passage of anyone through the crossing into Egypt, 1,200 people a day are coming across into Israel for medical care or business purposes? Should we be pressing Egypt to do the same?
– Earl of Courtown: The noble Lord makes a good point about approaches to the problems in this area. We are concerned by the restrictions at the Rafah crossing and are urging the Egyptians to show maximum flexibility in reopening it. We are also calling on Israel to fulfil its obligation by lifting its restrictions in order to ease the suffering of ordinary Palestinians and to allow the Gaza economy to grow.
– Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We have already seen Fatah lose control of Gaza to Hamas, and we now see signs that Hamas is threatened by more radical groups within Gaza which might, indeed, include supporters of IS. Given the cycle of violence between Israel and Gaza—and it is a cycle of violence, with both sides playing roles in it—do we not need something more urgent and imaginative to avoid what would be a disaster for the already poor relations between Israel and both entities of Palestine?
– Earl of Courtown: The noble Lord makes a good point. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deeply concerning, so we are urging key donors to disperse the Cairo pledges. We are encouraging the Palestinian Authority, as the noble Lord said, to engage more in Gaza and to move forwards on reconciliation. We are also continuing to press Israel to do more on exports, power, movements and access. As I said earlier, we are also urging Egypt to show more flexibility at the Rafah crossing.
– Baroness Morgan of Ely: As of April this year, of the $3.5 billion promised by donors for the reconstruction of Gaza, only 26% of the money has been released. Not one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. Can the Minister explain what pressure the Government are bringing to bear on the donors to release the promised funds, and can he confirm whether the UK has honoured its commitments to Gaza on this subject?
– Earl of Courtown: The noble Baroness refers to the Cairo pledges. The United Kingdom has honoured 80% of its pledges and has 20% outstanding. That will be spent over the next financial year and will concentrate on job creation, getting people into work, which we all know will help their economy. As for the other countries and their pledges, pressure is being put on them to spend more money in that area.
– Lord Ashdown: I think I heard the Minister say that “perhaps” war crimes have been committed. “Perhaps” war crimes have been committed? Surely we cannot leave it as “perhaps” war crimes have been committed. Either they have or they have not, and surely Her Majesty’s Government and others should now be taking steps to ensure that they understand whether or not that is the case.
– Earl of Courtown: At the particular point when answering that question, I couldn’t confirm, find the notes in my folder. As I understand it, war crimes have been committed. [ed: as he sits down he can just be heard to say “I think”. This is not in the Hansard transcript]
http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/730db1df-f28c-4bd4-b10a-fc9964519c54 Hansard video @ 14:52
Lords Oral Answers
WEDNESDAY 1 JULY 2015
- Foreign Secretary attended Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 22 June where the Middle East Peace Process was discussed under “Any Other Business”: Ms Mogherini briefed the Council following her recent trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah. Discussion centred on how the EU and its Member States could most effectively support the peace process. The Foreign Secretary emphasised the need for a coherent approach, and noted the important role of the EU, particularly on issues around settlements and Gaza. Ms Mogherini proposed a discussion item on the Middle East Peace Process at the 20 July FAC.
Commons Written Statements
- Carolyn Harris: Will DfID Secretary make an assessment of the potential humanitarian effect of ending restrictions on exports out of Gaza, and will she make a statement?
- Carolyn Harris: What assessment has DfID Secretary made of the potential humanitarian effect of creating a secure sea route for EU trade with Gaza between Cyprus and Gaza port?
- Carolyn Harris: What estimates has DfID Secretary made of the level of youth unemployment in Gaza, and will she make a statement?
- Carolyn Harris: What recent assessment has DfID Secretary made of the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories?
- Carolyn Harris: Will DfID Secretary make an assessment of the potential humanitarian effect of ending restrictions on trade between Gaza and the West Bank?
- Carolyn Harris: What assessment has DfID Secretary made of the humanitarian effect on Palestinians in the West Bank of restrictions on their movement?
Nos 2-7 Commons Written Answers
- In her reply to Lord Marlesford’s Written Question concerning the provision of monetary assistance to persons displaced by conflict in the Middle East, Baroness Verma stated: “The total DFID programme spend in response to the humanitarian crises, arising from conflict in the Middle East, was £457 million in 2014–15. The budgeted cost for 2015–16 is £448 million. This money has been allocated to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Lords Written Answers
THURSDAY 2 JULY 2015
- Debate: Iranian Nuclear Programme:
– Ian Austin: There is also real concern that Iran will use its strengthened economic and political position to expand its existing destabilising activities. The country is shipping rockets to Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza strip and paying them to fire those rockets at Israel. It is also shipping rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which now has 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel…..
How will the Government ensure that that money [ed: accruing from the lifting of sanctions] is not used to increase Iranian insurgent activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen or to continue supporting and arming Hezbollah and Hamas? What conditions will the agreement place on the use of those assets? [edited extracts]
– Pat McFadden: “Iran has continued to sponsor client groups in the region, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”
- Replying to Stephen Doughty’s Written Question asking “how many members and reserve members of the armed forces are providing training to the armed forces and security forces of other countries; and in which countries that training is being provided,” Penny Mordaunt stated, i.a.: “Over 100 personnel are currently deployed on other enduring overseas tasks, including the EU Training Mission in Mali, the international efforts in Somalia and Iraq, and security sector assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”
Commons Written Answers
- Debate on UK’s role in a world threatened by terrorism, conflict, climate change and mass migration:
– Lord Hannay: Is not it also time for the Security Council to lay down the parameters for a two-state solution of the Palestine problem and revive the momentum towards direct negotiations between the parties, which has faltered so badly? [extract]
FRIDAY 3 JULY 2015
- Carolyn Harris: What is Foreign Secretary’s policy on support he is giving to EU proposals to promote sea access to Gaza? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-24/4042
- Carolyn Harris: What representations has Foreign Secretary made to his Israeli counterpart on the demolition of the Arab-Israeli village of Um Al Huran? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-24/4043 [ed: Minister refers to his reply of 4 June – see http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-01/669]
- Carolyn Harris: What recent discussions has Foreign Secreta had with his Israeli counterparts on the prosecution of Israeli settlers for acts of violence against Palestinians? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-24/4044
- Carolyn Harris: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of whether UK-supplied weaponry and components were used by Israel in its campaign against Gaza in 2014? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-24/4045
- Carolyn Harris: How many of the recommendations of the report published in March 2012 and funded by the FCO on Palestinian children in military custody have been carried out? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-24/4142
- Carolyn Harris: What guidance does Foreign Secretary give to banks on the legality of conducting business with illegal settlements in the West Bank? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-25/4275
- Carolyn Harris: What steps is Foreign Secretary taking to encourage the Israeli government to abandon plans for a new settler city in Gvaot? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-06-25/4276
Commons Written Answers