‘Israeli restrictions cost Palestinian economy 85% of its GDP’ – Minister

Recent written questions in the House of Commons 

Blockade of Gaza

Mr Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the effect of Israeli blockades of raw materials on the Gaza economy; and what representations the Government has made to the government of Israel regarding that country’s blockade of Gaza. [181892]

Hugh Robertson: We consistently call for relaxation of the Israeli movement and access restrictions that have been estimated as costing the Palestinian economy up to 85% of its Gross Domestic Product every year. As part of this, we are urging Israel to ease its restrictions on Gaza on the import of commercial construction materials.

Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv made representations on this issue with the Israeli Defence Minister on 19 December and with the Israeli Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on 15 December.

Mr Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the availability of electricity to Palestinians following the recent flooding in Gaza. [181893]

Hugh Robertson: Heavy rain and snow in Gaza has led to widespread flooding and power cuts. Electricity feeder lines from Egypt and Israel were damaged on 12 December and, although they have been mostly repaired, subsequent bad weather has continued to damage the domestic network and electricity supply.

On 16 December, following a Qatari donation to the Palestinian Authority to fund the purchase of fuel for Gaza, the Gaza power plant restarted partial operations for the first time since 1 November. We continue to encourage the Palestinian Authority, Israel and other interested parties to find both an immediate and long-term solution to Gaza’s energy crisis.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Israeli Government regarding the blockade of Gaza; and if he will make a statement. [R] [180769]

Hugh Robertson: Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of easing of restrictions on 15 December with the Head of the Civil Coordination Department of the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Office (COGAT), and on 3 December with Head of COGAT’s International Division.

‘Halt demolitions of Palestinian homes’ – Minister

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Israeli government on the finding of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that the weekly average of structures demolished and persons displaced in the occupied Palestinian territory has remained unaffected by the recent resumption of peace talks. [181099]

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to urge the Israeli government to halt demolitions in occupied Palestinian territories for the duration of peace talks. [181100]

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with his counterparts in the EU what steps the EU might take to urge the Israeli government to halt demolitions in occupied Palestinian territories for the duration of peace talks. [181101]

Hugh Robertson: Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv have made representations to the Israeli Government about the continued demolitions of Palestinian property despite the resumption of talks and have urged a halt of demolitions.

In the 16 December 2013 Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, EU Foreign Ministers expressed “grave concern” regarding demolitions and warned against “actions that undermine the negotiations”. The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a local statement on 19 December expressing serious concern that since the beginning of the year, more than 600 Palestinian-owned structures had been demolished in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing around 1,000 Palestinians.

Olive Council

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on Palestinian membership of the International Olive Council. [179782]

Hugh Robertson: There has been some suggestion that the UK has blocked Palestinian membership of the International Olive Council. This is inaccurate. At the November meeting of the International Olive Council the Palestinian Authority did not ask for a vote on their application for full membership of the Council.

Area C

Mr Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on revoking Military Order 418 and returning planning powers on Area C to the Palestinian Authorities. [180436]

Hugh Robertson: We continue to urge Israel to ease the restrictions in place in Area C and to fulfil its obligation under the Oslo agreement to transfer authority over Area C to the Palestinian authority. Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv most recently raised the issue of development for Palestinian communities with the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on 3 December.

International Development

Gaza

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment she has made of the humanitarian situation in Gaza; and if she will make a statement. [180765]

Mr Duncan: We are deeply concerned by the chronic humanitarian situation in Gaza, which has been exacerbated by recent severe weather, leading to significant flooding and property damage. Our partner agencies have assessed that existing emergency response mechanisms are currently working adequately. We continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in close contact with our partners on the ground.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will take steps to ensure that assistance is given to the people of Gaza who have been evacuated from their homes owing to flooding. [R] [180766]

Mr Duncan: Widespread flooding has necessitated the evacuation of hundreds of families in Gaza. DFID officials have been in close contact with UN and other agencies to ensure that existing emergency response mechanisms are working adequately. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. Our substantial existing support to the people of Gaza, including providing food vouchers to poor families and basic services such as health care, will continue to support the most vulnerable at this critical time.

Bedouins

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to meet the humanitarian needs of Bedouin who are forcibly removed from their traditional lands. [901432]

Mr Duncan: The UK Government has raised concerns about forced relocation of Bedouin with the Israeli authorities, with a view to agreeing a satisfactory solution to this complex issue. DFID supports vulnerable communities including the Bedouin in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to reduce their risk of displacement.

Gaza 

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of whether levels of food, fuel and medical supplies entering Gaza each day are adequate for the population of that region. [181305]

Mr Duncan: We are very concerned by the chronic humanitarian situation in Gaza, caused in part by restrictions on movement and access for goods and people. Recent fuel deliveries from Turkey and Qatar have helped to mitigate the situation in the short term, but the energy supply is still inadequate and many families are experiencing long blackouts each day. Reports from our partners indicate that the emergency response mechanisms are currently working adequately, but concerns remain over the need to replenish stocks and longer-term funding. We welcome the decision of the Israeli Government to temporarily extend opening hours at the Kerem Salom crossing, and will continue to lobby Israel and Egypt to improve access to Gaza in the longer term.

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One thought on “‘Israeli restrictions cost Palestinian economy 85% of its GDP’ – Minister

  1. It is all “urge” “raise concerns” etc; what about action. Restrictions on Israelis coming to Britain by making them get visas as the Palestinians are required to do would be a start. There has to be a penalty for these actions by the Israelis

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