THURSDAY 5 DECEMBER 2013
1. Adjournment debate: Water shortages in OPTs – tabled by David Winnick:
– David Winnick: Average Palestinian water consumption is half that recommended by WHO; average Israeli’s is over four times as much; nearly 10% of WB
Palestinian communities not connected to water; buying it is expensive and difficult due to travel restrictions; some spend 40% of income on water; Israel has a veto on Joint Water Committee set up under Oslo and rejects most Palestinian infrastructure applications; none of this applies to settlers; this should be of utmost concern to all MPs [NB: fewer than five appear to be present]; “Pressure should be put on the Israelis”.
– Sir Bob Russell: Even in apartheid South Africa, I don’t recall the government denying anyone water in this way.
– DW: According to Amnesty, settlers use 20 times as much water as Palestinian villages. In Gaza 90% of water is undrinkable; Israel’s continued military actions prevent repair of water pipes destroyed in earlier such actions; “It should shame us that we allow it to occur without constant pressure”; “When injustice is involved, whoever is in control….. it is our job to do as much as we can”; there must be utmost pressure also by the Americans, who can put much more pressure on Israel; “It is simply not good enough for western Governments to refuse to raise the issue at every opportunity. I hope that will change and that western Governments—certainly ours—will raise the issue at the United Nations and do everything possible to bring a change.” Quotes a Palestinian in Amnesty’s Thirsting for Justice report: “They make our life very difficult, to make us leave.”
– Alan Duncan: Says he agrees with pretty well every word of DW’s speech; “It is an injustice that Palestinians should still lack something as basic as water”;
only 15% of Gazans have clean running water daily; Gaza aquifer set to become too polluted by 2016 and irreversibly damaged by 2020; failure of Gaza City’s main sewage pumping station brought raw sewage flooding into streets; Israel continues to limit import of construction and dual use materials; “Gaza’s economy remains stifled, so there is no way in which it could pay for the infrastructure anyway.” Egypt’s recent action to shut “smuggling tunnels” has cut off a lifeline and made situation worse; water situation is part of wider problem, which has to be settled through the peace talks which we aim to help partly by “support to the Kerry-led economic package to foster private sector led, sustainable economic growth in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
– DW: How can we say Israel is genuinely committed when they continue to build illegal settlements?
– AD: We totally condemn the illegal construction of settlements; we in DfID are working with EU to underpin the peace talks with some economic progress; and continue to lobby Israel to make good on its promises to improve water access; we also gave £10 million to the ICRC for human rights and humanitarian assistance.
– DW: “Could not the Israeli ambassador be called in to discuss some of what the Minister has said or what I have said? The Minister said that he agreed with every word I said. He is not likely to repeat that on any future parliamentary occasion, I imagine, but could not the ambassador be brought in and told of the concern felt by so many Members of Parliament on both sides of the House?”
– AD: “I and the House, I sense, share the hon. Gentleman’s sense of injustice, but I hope he will allow me to stay within the remit of DFID and not stray into the areas of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by making a judgment on the call that he has just made.” Goes on to detail DfID’s projects to restore agricultural wells in Area C.
– Sir Bob: Is it right that British tax payers’ money is spent on work made necessary by Israel’s behaviour?
– AD: “I detect in the hon. Gentleman’s question the suggestion, which I think is slightly warped logic, that somehow our support for the Palestinian Authority subsidises the occupation. That is not the logic that we adopt.”
Hansard video: starting at 17:01:55 http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14280&player=smooth
2. Ann Main: What recent representations has Foreign Secretary made to Israel about forced evictions inside Israel under the Prawer Plan?
Commons Written Answers
3. Andrew Gwynne: How much of DfID’s OPT budget is allocated for non-governmental, non-UN and non-PA programmes in East Jerusalem; are development programmes for Palestinians in East Jerusalem eligible for DfID funding; what proportion of DfID’s OPT budget is allocated for employment and training programmes in East Jerusalem; how much of DfID’s OPT budget is allocated for poverty-reduction programmes in East Jerusalem?
4. Andrew Gwynne: When did DfID last review and assess the impact of its spending in the OPTs?
Commons Written Answers
WEDNESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2013
1. DfID Questions:
– Richard Burden: Gaza’s economic development is compromised by the blockade, with over 1 million people on food aid and 3,000 people affected by raw sewage running into the streets as a result of fuel shortages; what is Britain going to do in practice to end the blockade?
– Justine Greening: We are deeply concerned; there will be a debate on this matter tomorrow [i.e. Thursday 5 December] evening. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131204/debtext/131204-0001.htm#13120443000014
2. Grahame M. Morris: What steps is DfID taking to meet the humanitarian needs of Bedouin who are forcibly removed from their traditional lands? http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131204/text/131204w0004.htm#13120493000096
3. Andrew Gwynne: What DfID projects were funded by the Conflict Pool in Israel and the OPTs in 2010, 2011 and 2012? http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131204/text/131204w0004.htm#13120493000098
Nos 2-3 Commons Written Answers
4. Lord Hylton: What is HMG’s assessment of the humanitarian and public health consequences of cutting off fuel supplies to Gaza; will they make proposals for overcoming such disruption and preventing any consequent violence? http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/131204w0001.htm#13120458000246
Lords Written Answers
TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER 2013
1. Foreign Office Questions:
– Duncan Hames: What effect have recent settlement announcements had on peace negotiations?
– Hugh Robertson: They have had a detrimental impact on trust between the two parties; during my recent visit I made clear our serious concerns and our strong opposition to settlements.
– DH: Will he use his influence to shape European trade policies in a manner that is consistent with HMG’s view on the illegal settlements?
– HR: Yes. We welcome the EU guidelines on eligibility of Israel entities for EU funding and the agreement that allows Israel to participate in Horizon 2020.
– Louise Ellman: New settlement announcements “must be unhelpful”; but does he recognise Israel’s good will in continuing prisoner releases while Palestinian national broadcasting authority “perpetuates calls for violence against Israelis and Jews”?
– HR: “Yes. If the Palestinian broadcasting authority is perpetuating calls for violence, that is totally unacceptable, and I would have no hesitation in condemning it. It is fair to say that it was made clear to me a couple of weeks ago that the Palestinians believe that the original agreement was that there would be no push towards representation in international bodies in exchange for prisoner release and that the settlements issue should be renegotiated at a later stage.”
– Philip Hollobone: Are the Palestinians speaking with one voice and what is his assessment of the relationship between Fatah and Hamas?
– HR: Those involved in the peace process are speaking with one voice but there is a very considerable difference between them and the authorities in Gaza; I call on the latter to make it clear that they deplore terrorist activities of all sorts.
– Andy Slaughter: When we raise the issue of trade with illegal settlements, HMG say they do not want to upset the peace talks, but the new settlement announcements are destabilising them. What are HMG going to do about that in order to support the peace talks?
– HR: HMG have repeatedly condemned these announcements about expanded settlements which are illegal under international law and undermine the possibility of a two-state solution.
– Lisa Nandy: 13-year old Mahmoud Khousa was targeted and killed by a drone-fired missile in Gaza last year. Will he use his influence to achieve justice for him and his family and send a strong message that nobody should be allowed to target innocent 13-year-old children?
– HR: There is absolutely no excuse for the targeting of children in any form of military strike. “I am not entirely sure how a drone could be that precisely targeted, but….. we regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness, and we will take it up in no uncertain terms with the Israeli authorities.”
– Caroline Lucas: Gaza is facing a public health catastrophe, with chronic fuel and power shortages. Despite the Foreign Secretary repeatedly urging Israel to ease restrictions, nothing ever happens on the ground. “Will he now at least call for a formal assessment of whether the human rights conditions in article 2 of the EU-Israel association agreement are being met?”
– HR: HMG have made their views clear on this. “Part of the problem was the creation of the tunnels, which have now been blocked up.” We are urging Israel to facilitate free trade and to alleviate the appalling humanitarian situation.
– Robert Halfon: Israels send millions of tonnes of aid into Gaza every week. Is he aware that it would be perfectly possible for the Egyptians to open their border to let goods into Gaza?
– HR: Indeed, the issue was discussed with the Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister only yesterday.
Commons Oral Questions
2. Persecution of Christians debate tabled by Jim Shannon [NB: Palestinian Christians not mentioned even by these two speakers]:
– Mark Pritchard: Christianity has its origins in Bethlehem.
– Sir Tony Baldry: There is a severe danger that Christianity “will be almost completely erased from the traditional middle east Holy Land of the Bible”.
3. Alex Cunningham: What recent assessment has Foreign Secretary made of Israeli treatment of Palestinian child detainees?
4. Caroline Lucas: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the effect of the IDF’s Gaza blockade on the Gazan economy and children in Gaza?
5. William McCrea: What discussions has Foreign Secretary had with Israel on the prevention of terrorism in that country?
6. Mike Thornton: What representations has Foreign Secretary made to srael on the Prawer plan in the Negev region of Israel?
7. Mike Thornton: What recent discussions has Foreign Secretary had with Israel on implementation of the recommendations
in the report on Children in Military Custody?
8. Stephen Doughty: What recent assessment has DfID Secretary made of the humanitarian needs of displaced Bedouin from the Neqab; what assessment has she made of the reasons for their displacement; and has she raised it with Israel?
Nos 3-8 Commons Written Answers
MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 2013
1. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the closure of Gaza’s power plant?
2. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the current dangers to health in Gaza from sewage flooding as a result of the lack of electricity in that region?
3. Baroness Tonge: What is the latest information HMG have received about the plans for the occupants of Gaza in the final status negotiations?
4. Baroness Tonge: What assessment have HMG made of the effect of drone surveillance on the civilian population in Gaza?
5. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning use of live fire against students within Al Quds University on 17 November?
6. Lord Hylton: Will HMG make representations to Irael about allegations of mock raids and arrests by the Israeli army affecting civilians in the WB; and will they
press for such allegations to be investigated and anyone found guilty of misconduct to be disciplined?
7. Lord Hylton: When did HMG last discuss with Israel the night-time arrests of Palestinian children and their transfer to interrogation and detention centres in Israel; what replies did they receive and what has since been done to implement improvements in the treatment of such children?
8. Lord Hylton: What representations have HMG made to Israel regarding reported differences in procedures and conditions for Israeli and Palestinian children arrested by Israeli authorities for equivalent offences?
9. Bishop of Derby: What steps are HMG taking to address impediments to delivery of humanitarian assistance in the WB such as confiscation of humanitarian aid and prevention of access to communities in need of emergency assistance?
10. Bishop of Derby: What conversations have HMG had with other EU governments regarding development of a co-ordinated EU response mechanism to address the demolition of EU-funded infrastructure projects in the WB?
11. Bishop of Derby: What representations have HMG made to Israel following decision of 3 November to authorise tenders for construction of settlement units in East Jerusalem and the WB?
12. Lord Hylton: What improvements, if any, have occurred this year in the treatment of Palestinian children arrested in the WB and East Jerusalem, in particular concerning access for their parents and legal representatives, for the recording of interviews and for independent investigation of complaints?
All of the above are Lords Written Answers2