Israeli army knocks down Palestinian homes paid for by international donors – David Ward MP
Ministers answered three questions on Palestine at Oral Questions to the Secretary of State for International Development today.
*8 Mr David Ward MP: What research her Department has undertaken into the humanitarian effects of the occupation of the West Bank?
Aid Minister Alan Duncan: We are deeply concerned by the impact of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank. Reports from the UN and others clearly document poverty, displacement, constrained growth and the demolition this year alone of 247 Palestinian structures.
David Ward (Bradford East) (LDem): Those who have been to the West Bank and Gaza will be frustrated to constantly see international aid used to pay for buildings which are then promptly knocked down by the Israeli regime. Is the Minister aware that, according to figures in the UN Humanitarian Monitor for April, there was a 30% rise in the number of Palestinians displaced by house demolitions and a total of 46 structures demolished by the Israeli army, which included five paid for by international donors.
Alan Duncan: The Government shares the Member’s concerns about the nature and scale of demolitions. I am glad to say we have contributed to the constructionof a number of schools in Gaza where children will be educated – we hope without their premises ever being demolished.
Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): With the Council for European Palestinian Relations, I recently visited Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who had fled from Syria. Is the Secretary of State satisfied that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is doing all that it can to help those people, who are living in miserable conditions?
International Development Secretary Justine Greening: I thank the Member for that question, because that important aspect of the crisis is often not recognised. We have provided £5 million to UNRWA particularly to support its work with Palestinian refugees. That will support more than 350,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, and will go on food parcels and other relief items.
Jim McGovern (Dundee West) (Lab): A member of my staff, Lee Butcher, recently visited Palestine. He was shocked and stunned to see how Palestinians are treated by the Israelis, for example having no water for weeks on end. What can the Government do to help those Palestinians who are suffering such pain?
Alan Duncan: We put as much pressure and argument as we can to improve the condition of Palestinians in Area C, and we very much hope that such issues will be addressed in the peace process, which we wish every success, as it continues over the next few weeks.
Latest from the West Bank
- In the week ending June 3 Israeli settlers set fire to or cut down at least 1,220 olive trees in the West Bank, according to UN figures, and slashed tyres, sprayed graffiti, set fire to or threw rocks at Palestinian-owned cars in Jerusalem.
- The number of Palestinians injured as a direct result of the conflict in the first four months of this year was 661, of whom 660 were civilians.
Latest from Gaza
- In the week ending June 3, only one truck left Gaza carrying exports compared with an average of 240 a week before the blockade. The unemployment rate in Gaza is now 30% and 54% among women under 25.
- Israeli naval forces have opened fire on Palestinian fishermen on a number of occasions in the last month to enforce a six-mile limit which has reduced the number of registered fishermen in Gaza from 10,000 to 3,500.
- Over 100 Gazans have sustained permanent disabilities as a result of the outbreak of hostilities last November. The National Society for Rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip which cares for 1,700 people disabled by the conflict
Two-state solution update:
A minister in the Israeli government has stated what has long been obvious – that Prime Minister Netanyahu no longer believes in the two-state solution, if he ever did. Opposition MPs have called for the minister to be sacked but so far he hasn’t been.
Proof – if it were needed – that for the British Foreign Secretary to merely condemn illegal settlements is pointless. He’s condemned them 100 times already. Condemning is easy. The issue is what he’s going to do about it?