British Government’s Current Position: Gaza

Question from John Howell (Conservative) on 2nd July 2020 ( 68306)

Department for International Development Gaza: Humanitarian Aid 68306 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether UK funding to the UN’s Access Coordination Unit is used to ensure access for humanitarian personnel and goods into Gaza from Egypt.

Answer from James Cleverly (Conservative) on 9th July 2020

The UK remains deeply concerned about the restrictions on movement and access that affect Gaza. DFID is providing £1.3 million (2018-21) to support the UN’s Access Coordination Unit (ACU), which works with all relevant parties to ensure humanitarian access to Gaza for UN and NGO workers. The ACU works with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate access through the Rafah crossing.

Question: by Alex Cunningham (Labour) on 9th June 2020

Gaza Demonstrations: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of progress made by Israel in (a) investigating, and (b) holding those liable accountable for potentially unlawful killings by its forces in the context of the 2018-2019 Gaza protests.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 10 June 2019

Answer: by James Cleverly (Conservative) on 17th June 2020 ( 57198)

The UK has repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about the manner in which the Israel Defense Forces police non-violent protests and the border areas, including use of live ammunition. We will continue to do so. We fully support an independent and transparent investigation into the deadly events in Gaza. We welcome that the Israeli Military Advocate General has ordered five criminal investigations which relate to eleven separate instances of Palestinian fatalities during the Gaza border protests. These investigations are ongoing. Given the importance of accountability, it is vital these investigations are independent and transparent; that their findings are made public; and, if wrongdoing is found, that those responsible be held to account.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Gaza: Fisheries (HL16230)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the consequences of frequent alterations to the fishing zones that the government of Israel allows fishermen in Gaza to use.

Answer: by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 24 June 2019

​We regularly raise with the Government of Israel the urgent need to ease all access and movement restrictions on Gaza, including fishing limits. This would help to restore the fishing industry as regular alterations to the zone, often as a punitive measure, cause uncertainty and insecurity. The UK would like to see a permanent increase in the size of the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza in line with the limit of 20 nautical miles stipulated in the Oslo accords.

Question: Asked by Jo Stevens (Labour, Cardiff Central) on: 29 April 2019

Department for International Development Gaza: Health Professions (248708)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what estimate she has made of the number of Palestinian health workers in Gaza allegedly killed by Israeli Defence Force actions in the last two years.

Answer: Harriett Baldwin (Conservative) on 02 May 2019

The UK is aware of the danger healthcare workers face while working in Gaza and continues to remain deeply concerned. The World Health Organisation reported that, in the context of protests, from March 2018 to March 2019, 3 healthcare personnel have been killed and 731 injured, with a total of 446 total incidents against health staff and facilities. We have raised our concerns about the excessive volume of live fire that Israel has used to respond to protests, including against medics, and we have stressed to Israel the importance of protecting those delivering medical services.

Question: Asked on: 29 April 2019, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Gaza: Demonstrations (248667)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure there is an (a) independent, (b) transparent and (c) thorough investigation into each child fatality that occurred during protests in Gaza between 30 March and 31 December 2018.

Answer: Mark Field (Conservative) on 02 May 2019

​The UK fully supports the need for an independent and transparent investigation which establishes the facts about the recent violence in Gaza. We have repeatedly called for such an investigation at the highest levels, as well as in multiple forums, including in Parliament in an Urgent Question on 22 March, and at the UN Security Council. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised Gaza with the Israeli authorities in March, highlighting the importance of proportionality, and raising concerns about the volume of live fire against unarmed women, children and medics. We will continue to make clear to the Israeli authorities that it is vital their investigations are independent and transparent and that their findings are made public, and importantly, if wrongdoing is found, those that are responsible are held to account.

Question: by Jo Stevens (Labour, Cardiff Central) on: 29 April 2019

Department for International Development Gaza: Diseases (248709)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the effect of the Israeli blockade of Gaza on (a) infant mortality rates, (b) levels of malnutrition, (c) instances of communicable diseases per 100,000 people and (d) prevalence of diseases related to poor sanitation in that territory.

Answer: Harriett Baldwin (Conservative) on: 02 May 2019

We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and continually monitor the impact on both children and adults living there. We are particularly concerned about the health sector: UN OCHA’s 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview estimates 900,000 people are in need of humanitarian health interventions in Gaza. DFID regularly reviews key warning indicators on health, food security, protection, shelter, water and sanitation, and energy and fuel reserves in Gaza, to ensure that we can flexibly respond to urgent needs on the ground. Last month we provided an additional £2 million to the ICRC to support the health sector in Gaza.

We continue to stress to the Israeli authorities the damage that their restrictions on movement and access are doing to the living standards of ordinary Palestinians and the impact they have on the humanitarian situation, in particular the health of the population in Gaza and the development of health services there.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 08 April 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Gaza: Demonstrations (HL15124)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the grounds for their abstention from the vote on the motion endorsing the Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, published on 18 March, at the Fortieth Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on 22 March.

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 8th April 2019

Our abstention followed from our position in May 2018, when we abstained on the resolution that created the Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza protests. Our expectation is that accountability must be pursued impartially, fairly, and in a balanced manner. We could not therefore support a resolution that failed to call explicitly for an investigation into the action of non-state actors such as Hamas. It is a source of great concern that, between 30 March 2018 and 31 March 2019, over 29,000 Palestinians have been injured and 195 Palestinians have been killed during the Gaza protests. So while we are clear that Israel has the right to self-defence, and that Hamas operatives have cynically exploited these protests, we have also expressed to Israel our serious concerns about the use of live ammunition and excessive force by the Israel Defence Forces. We continue to fully support an independent and transparent investigation into the deadly events in Gaza. Our decision to abstain alongside Denmark, Croatia, Italy and Japan, reflects this balanced approach.

Question: asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 04 June 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Israel: Gaza (HL16060)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reported view of the Director-General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, that the Israeli army had deliberately targeted journalists in the Gaza Strip.

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 17 June 2019

The UK fully supports the need for an independent and transparent investigation into events in Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return in March 2018. We have repeatedly stressed to Israel the importance of using proportionate force, and the specific need to protect journalists, medics and children. The UK is committed to the promotion of media freedom and the protection of journalists, as an essential element of democracy. Officials from the British Consulate in Jerusalem and our Embassy in Tel Aviv hosted a roundtable in April with foreign journalists serving in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to discuss this issue.

Question: by Baroness Tonge  (Independent)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made, and intend to make, to the government of Israel about family members not being permitted to accompany children who are receiving medical treatment outside of Gaza. (HL15860)

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) Minister of State on 4th June 2109

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv regularly raises the matter of medical permits with the Israeli authorities. Israeli restrictions severely restrict the movement of medical professionals, patients and families in Gaza, hampering the provision of quality health services. The situation in Gaza is particularly acute, and is compounded by frequent closure by Egypt of the Rafah crossing, preventing urgent medical cases from seeking treatment in Egypt. We are clear that Israel’s occupation of Gaza is not sustainable. That is why we need a lasting peace agreement which ensures that all those who are in need of medical attention have access to healthcare provisions.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East that more than a million people in Gaza may not have enough food in June unless international donors can raise £46 million in funding due to the deficit created by cuts by the government of the United States to Palestinian refugee aid(HL15862)

Answer: Baroness Sugg (Conservative) The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development on 3rd June 2019

The UK is deeply concerned about the challenges facing over a million Palestinian refugees who rely on food assistance in Gaza. We recognise that Palestinian refugees need UNRWA to be on a more secure financial footing. To that end, the UK is working with UNRWA and other donors to support cost cutting efforts, diversify donor income, and encourage multi-year funding commitments.

The UK is a leading donor to UNRWA and I can confirm that the UK has committed to providing up to £80m to UNRWA over the next two years. However, a long-term solution requires a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for Palestinian refugees. Until that happens the UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees.

Question: Baroness Tonge (Independent)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent assessment they have made of the prediction made in the report by the Office of the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Jerusalem, Gaza in 2020: A Liveable Place?, published in 2012, that Gaza would be unfit for human inhabitancy by 2020. (HL15750)

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) Minister of State, on 29th May 2019

The UK remains deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza and the report in question’s prediction that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020. UK aid has supported economic development, provision of basic services, and enabled reconstruction through support to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. The Minister of State for the Middle East (the Rt Hon Andrew Murrison) visited Gaza on 28 May 2019 and saw the extent of this first hand.

However, as the report makes clear, aid alone cannot solve the problems in Gaza. Improvements in infrastructure, employment, energy and water are essential to improve living conditions. The Government will continue to urge all the parties to take the necessary practical steps to improve conditions. We will continue to press for a sustainable political solution for Gaza and to address the underlying cause of humanitarian strife in Gaza by more than doubling the amount of UK aid spent on economic development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to around £38 million over the next five years (2018-2023). This will include support to addressing the water and electricity crisis and seek to address movement and access restrictions.

Question: by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 08 April 2019

Department for International Trade, Imports: Israeli Settlements (HL15128)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Fairhead on 2 April (HL14807), what steps they are taking to ensure that products from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories of Palestine are identified as such and are not re-labelled as Israeli, when exported via Israel.

Answer: Baroness Fairhead (Conservative) on 16 April 2019

As referenced in my Written Answer on 2 April (HL14807), products produced in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) are not entitled to benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the EU-Israel Trade Agreements. These areas are set out in a list of postcodes, which will be hosted on gov.uk, alongside a notice to importers. Tariff preferences will be implemented by UK customs authorities.

We will also continue to implement the EU’s interpretive notice on the indication of origin of products from Israel settlements. These guidelines are an important step to ensure correct and coherent implementation of EU consumer protection and labelling legislation.

Question: by Lord Judd (Labour)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy towards the use, in all Government departments and services, of goods sourced from illegal settlements in the West Bank; and in particular, how the use of such goods applies to UK missions in Israel and Palestine. (HL15842)

Answer: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) Minister of State on 4th June 2109

Government departments and missions are aware of UK policy on this issue, which is that we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including settlements in the West Bank, as part of Israel and indeed these settlements are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement which governs our trade with Israel.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. HL12683

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the treatment of Palestinians who have been shot and wounded by the Israeli Defence Force.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 21 January 2019

​The UK has repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about the manner in which the Israel Defence Forces respond to protests in the border areas, including use of live ammunition. The UK is providing funding to Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) to enable access to healthcare of Palestinians in Gaza and protect the right to health.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 28 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Gaza. HL13183

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made, or will make, to the government of Israel about the withholding of international donations intended for Gaza.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) 11 February 2019

​We regularly urge Israel to go further in easing access restrictions on Gaza. The UK supports the UN Access Coordination Unit, which works with the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian goods including some medical equipment and supplies, into Gaza. We are also calling on all donors to fulfil their financial pledges to aid the reconstruction efforts in Gaza without delay.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge (Independent) on 29 January 2019

Department for International Development: Palestinians: Water. HL13265

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to provide financial support to the water and sewage projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that were previously funded by the government of the United States; and if so, what will be the nature of any such support.

A Answered by: Lord Bates (Conservative) on 11 February 2019

DFID is concerned about the withdrawal of US aid funding from the water sector in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The shortage of clean water and adequate waste water treatment facilities across the OPTs drives down living standards, poses health and environmental risks, and is a significant barrier to economic growth. However, the UK is not in a position to redirect funding to projects formerly funded by the US.

The UK has already committed to supporting the Palestinian water sector, through DFID’s Supporting Economic Empowerment and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (SEED OPTs) programme. UK aid will help reform the water sector and co-finance critical water infrastructure to increase the supply and access of clean water across the OPTs. This includes upgrading Gaza’s water carrier network to support the planned Gaza Central Desalination Plant which, once operational, will produce 55 billion litres of safe drinking water annually, benefiting all Gazans.

Q Asked by Lord Hylton on 18 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Gaza, HL12405

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of allegations of war crimes by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza, including reports of armed personnel posing as humanitarian aid workers; and what discussions they have had about such allegations with the government of Israel.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) on 03 January 2019

​Whilst we have not made any assessment on this issue, we have repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about its conduct in its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We regularly raise concerns about Gaza with the Israeli authorities and urge them to lift their restrictions in order to improve the humanitarian situation.

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