Tag: Palestine

Palestine is the main target of ethical procurement ban

Westminster Hall debate on “Local government and ethical procurement” House of Commons Tuesday 15th March at 14.30 – 16.00 Introduced by Richard Burden MP

MPs will have their first opportunity on Tuesday to debate two proposed government regulations which seek to restrict even further any discretion that public bodies still have over decisions on contracts, procurement or pension funds other than on strictly financial grounds.

The government is using parliamentary procedures that leave very little opportunity for scrutiny and debate, but Richard Burden MP has succeeded in getting a 90-minute debate in Westminster Hall at 2.30 pm on Tuesday.

Although the regulations cover any kind of action against any country, there is no doubt that their main target are the councils that are trying to take action against illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

This is clear from two facts:

First, the original announcement did not come either of the two sponsoring departments, the Department of Communities and the Cabinet Office, but in a Conservative party press release on the Saturday before last year’s Conservative conference.

The press release claimed the regulations would stop ‘militant left-wing councils’ boycotting Israeli goods and named Leicester City Council as a target.

Leicester City council passed a motion in November 2014 to ban goods from illegal settlements “insofar as legal considerations allow”. Similar motions have been passed by seven other councils.

Secondly, the Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock announced the next stage of the process not in the House of Commons but at a joint press conference with the Israeli premier, Benyamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem.

There also appears to be a disconnect between the two sponsoring departments, Communities and Cabinet Office, and the two departments actually responsible for trade with Israel, the Foreign Office and the Department of Business.

The UKTI website, sponsored by the FCO and Business, announced new business guidance in December 2014 advising UK firms that that it would “neither encourage nor support” them if they traded with illegal settlements and warning them of legal and reputational risks if they did so:

‘There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment. EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals.’

The Communities/Cabinet Office regulations threaten councils with “severe penalties” if they impose a ban or a boycott on trade and investment with any country unless the Government has already taken a decision to impose sanctions.

So while the Foreign Office is warning UK companies and private individuals against trading with settlements, the Department of Communities and the Cabinet Office are threatening to make it illegal for councils and council pension funds to follow their advice.

Britain has a clear position on settlements: “Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.” Yet at the same time it keeps the settlements in business with EU trade worth €300 million every year.

Total EU trade with Israel was worth €30 billion (£23 bn) in 2014 so trade with settlements at  €300 is just a hundredth of trade with Israel. But whereas the EU is Israel’s biggest trading partner, Israel accounts for only 0.9% of the EU’s trade.  The EU is therefore in a strong negotiating position to force Israel to stop building settlements tomorrow.  Even the UK alone could exert very strong pressure.

If the UK government says the settlements are illegal, but does not have the courage to do anything about it, why oh why is it trying to stop local councillors from representing the views of their local communities by refusing to trade with lawbreakers. It is vital to defend the right of councillors to represent the interests of their local communities.


Highlights of Debate on Motion to recognise Palestine as a State

A Backbench debate on Monday 13 October 2014 was secured by Grahame Morris MP  “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. An amendment was proposed by Jack Straw to add ‘as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.’ This amendment was accepted.
The amended motion was carried 274 votes for, 12 against.
Highlights from the debate 
Grahame M. Morris: As the originator of the Balfour declaration and holder of the mandate for Palestine, Britain has a unique historical connection and, arguably, a moral responsibility to the people of both Israel and Palestine. In 1920, we undertook a sacred trust—a commitment to guide Palestinians to statehood and independence. That was nearly a century ago, and the Palestinian people are still to have their national rights recognised. This sacred trust has been neglected for far too long. As the Lady has just said, we have an historic opportunity to atone for that neglect, and take this small but symbolically important step.
Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I understand the Government’s position, but they should listen to the voice of this House. Virtually everybody who has spoken—not just lefties waving placards in Trafalgar square, but virtually every Conservative MP—has said that now is the time to recognise the justice of the Palestinians’ case.
I have nothing but respect and support for the state of Israel. I think that all of us are very philo-Semitic. But the [Israelis] have to open their hearts. They have to start relaxing controls in and out of Gaza. They have to start relaxing controls at the Bethlehem checkpoint and they have to stop the settlements. There has to be some way forward. We have to recognise, however naive this may sound, that we are part of a common humanity.
Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): this country has a special duty here. It is easy to try to duck that duty. We are the authors of the Balfour declaration and we were the occupying power. Anybody who goes to the Middle East knows—I am sure that the Minister would agree with me on this—that the views taken by the British Government and the British people run powerfully in the region. We should set an example. Yes, 135 countries have recognised Palestine and yes, we are behind the curve in this matter, but it is not too late for us to set an example to Europe and the rest of the world and show that we believe in equality and fairness in international statecraft as much as we believe in our own country.
Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con): What entitles the United Kingdom to withhold a recognition that is the birthright—the long overdue birthright—of each and every Palestinian child? It would be shameful not to take the step of recognition now, when it would make a real difference.
The United Kingdom was a midwife at the birth of Israel and is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. That means an aspiration to take a lead in world affairs. We should take that lead now on this vital issue through a decisive vote of the British House of Commons.
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): There The recognition of Palestine by the British House of Commons would affect the international situation. It would be a game changer. I call on both sides of the House to give the Palestinians their rights and show the Israelis that they cannot suppress another people all the time. It is not Jewish to do that. They are harming the image of Judaism, and terrible outbreaks of anti-Semitism are taking place. I want to see an end to anti-Semitism, and I want to see a Palestinian state.
Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Lab): Their illegal occupation of land is condemned by this Government in strong terms, but no action follows. The Israelis sell produce from these illegal settlements in Palestine as if they were made or grown in Israel, but no action follows. The Israeli Government will go on doing this as long as they pay no price for their obduracy.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): I received an e-mail today from a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem. He described some of his life under occupation in East Jerusalem and he asked me to say this tonight: “I want to see light at the end of the tunnel, but I really want to see light at the end of the tunnel; I don’t want to see a train coming at me from the other end.”
Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): I have stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad. I have sat down with Ministers and senior Israeli politicians …. and I thought that they were listening. But I realise now, in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.
The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.
Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behaviour in recent months that I will not oppose the motion.
I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.
Sir Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) (Con): Recognition of statehood is not a reward for anything; it is a right. The notion that it would put an end to negotiations, or somehow pre-empt or destroy them, is patently absurd; Palestine would still be occupied, and negotiations would need to continue, both to end that occupation and to agree land swaps and borders. Refusing Palestinian recognition is tantamount to giving Israel the right of veto.
A lot of people feel intimidated when it comes to standing up for this issue. It is time we did stand up for it, because almost the majority of Palestinians are not yet in their 20s. They will grow up stateless. If we do not give them hope, dignity and belief in themselves, it will be a recipe for permanent conflict, none of which is in Israel’s interests. Today, the House should do its historic duty.
Mike Wood (Batley and Spen) (Lab): We will be voting tonight for the recognition of a Palestinian state. That is not just about recognising the inalienable right of Palestinians to freedom and self-determination but about Israel’s need to be saved from itself. What Israel is looking at in a one-state solution is a continuation, year after year, of war and violence such as we have seen building in the past 20 years. The Israelis have just finished a third incursion into Gaza in 10 years. Are we suggesting that every two years another 1,500 people should be killed and another 100,000 people rendered homeless as a continuation of the process of driving everybody who is not Jewish out of what is considered to be greater Israel?
Mr David Ward (Bradford East) (LD): What I do not understand is why the Palestinians should have had to pay such a terrible price for the creation of the state of Israel, where it was believed that security could be created, or why the Israelis believed that the brutal expulsion and continued suppression of the Palestinians would ever lead to the sense of security that they seek.
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) (Lab): There are moments when the eyes of the world are on this place, and I believe that this is one of those moments.
Mr Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): , three years ago at the United Nations, the then Foreign Secretary said that Palestine met the conditions and was ready for statehood. How long do they have to wait?
Mr Tobias Ellwood, Middle East minister: The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that that can best help bring about peace. The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time most helpful to the peace process, because a negotiated end to the occupation is the most effective way for Palestinian aspirations of statehood to be met on the ground.
The UN estimates that it could take 18 years to rebuild Gaza without major change. It says that Gaza could become unliveable by 2020. If the underlying causes are not addressed, it risks becoming an incubator for extremism in the region.
Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab), shadow Middle East minister:  The Labour party supported Palestinian recognition at the UN and we support the principle of recognition today, because we believe it will strengthen the moderate voices among the Palestinians who want to pursue the path of politics, not the path of violence.
It is crucial, at this time when help is needed, that President Abbas receives support for the political path he has chosen. We need to support President Abbas to follow the path of peace and not the path the terrorists of Hamas inflict on the people of Israel, Labour believes that, amid the despair today, we need to take a dramatic step.
Labour urges the Government to listen to the House of Commons—listen to the voices on the Conservative Benches, the Liberal Democrat Benches, the Labour Benches, all the Benches—and give Palestinians what they have as a right: statehood. This it not an alternative to negotiations; it is a bridge for beginning them.
Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central) (Lab): This year’s conflict in Gaza shows how unequal the two sides are. There were some 1,462 civilians killed on the Palestinian side and seven on the Israeli side. All of those are a personal disaster for the victims’ families and are regrettable, but we can see from the numbers the scale of the imbalance in this situation.
Given the imbalance, Palestinian statehood would not harm Israel in any way, but it would give some support to the Palestinian people.
Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): In line with our traditional policy, we should recognise the Palestinian state as a reality. We would not be granting it anything; we would simply be recognising a fact.
Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) (Lab): Every day that the establishment of the Palestinian state is postponed merely guarantees the continuation of the conflict, with more innocent people losing their lives. We owe it to all those who have lost their lives on both sides, and those whose lives are constantly at risk, to bring this tragedy to an end by recognising the Palestinian state without further delay.
Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): I believe that time has come. We need to support the vast majority of Palestinians who believe in peaceful coexistence with Israel, and face down the violent minority by showing them that non-violence and a willingness to negotiate can help get them somewhere.
Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): It is the British people who have taken up this cause, with more than 50,000 e-mails sent to MPs over the past two or three weeks. The Labour movement [has been on a journey] from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country.
The motion is a positive step, but my constituents wish to see more. They would like us to stop supplying arms to the Israelis when those arms are being used for the occupation and to kill people in Gaza. They would like us to stop importing goods from illegal settlements—illegal under international law. They cannot understand why, if the settlements are illegal, the goods should not be illegal as well.
Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab): In the recent referendum in Scotland. … we did not ask the people of England, Wales or Northern Ireland whether they wish Scotland to stay. We accepted that it was the right of the Scottish people to decide. The same principle should be applied to Palestine. This is not an issue for the Israelis to decide, even if they want to. It is not an issue for negotiations. It is an issue for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people alone.
Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP): If we are serious about a two-state solution, 65 years is too long to wait for recognition of Palestine. Even if only to provide parity of dignity—the basic dignity of having one’s nation state recognised—we should recognise it. The time for excuses is over; we should recognise Palestine today.
Andrew Griffiths (Burton) (Con): According to the UN, during this summer’s conflict, a total of 2,131 Palestinians were killed. Of those, at least 1,473 were civilians—young, innocent civilians, in many cases. On the Israel side, 66 Israeli defence force soldiers were killed, and five Israeli civilians. I do not believe that that response is proportionate. Israel has lost the moral high ground in the way it acted.
We should demand the same standards of Israel as we do of any democratic state Some of the acts committed by Israel were clearly unacceptable. Why was it necessary to blow up Gaza’s only power station, leaving already stretched hospitals to rely on generators? Why was it necessary to bomb hospitals and schools, when, as we saw, the threat of loss of life to Israeli civilians was small in comparison? By adding to the suffering of the Gazan people, the Israeli Government have lost the support of the House, and it should cause them great concern.
It is important that moderates in the debate such as me should speak out if we are turning against support for Israel.
Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): Over the past weeks my in-box has been flooded with hundreds of letters from my constituents. Their strength of feeling is undeniable, their arguments are heartfelt, and their conviction is deep-seated—and for good reason. I share those arguments and that conviction.
Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): This House has a duty to support Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian claim to statehood is not in the gift of a neighbour—it is an inalienable right of the Palestinians, and tonight we should speak up on their behalf. There are times when this House has to send a message—when this House has to speak. I believe that the will of the British people is now to support Palestinian statehood
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): if we are to tell Arabs across the region to reject extremism, rockets, bombs and massacres that are deliberately aimed at killing defenceless civilians, we must also do more to support the moderate, democratic, pluralist leaders, such as Mahmoud Abbas, who have painstakingly pursued the diplomatic path towards peace and self-determination.

Free Marwan Barghouti: the New Mandela

Read our new Free Marwan Barghouthi pamphlet, calling for the release of the best known Palestinian political Free Marwan Barghouthi for web prisoner. 

The campaign was launched by the veteran South African ANC politician Ahmed Kathrada. Back in the 1960s Kathrada founded the first Free Marwan Barghouti pamphlet fp imagecampaign to Release Mandela and was then jailed himself and spent many years on Robben Island.  He returned to Mandela’s cell on Robben Island to launch the campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi with Fadwa Barghouti, Marwan’s wife.

Momentum is now growing behind the campaign which is supported by all the Palestinian political parties and human rights organisations and by the overwhelming majority of Palestinians as well as a constellation of former prime ministers and Nobel prize winners.

To coincide with what should have seen the release of the fourth group of prisoners as part of the Kerry talks,  we are launching a new pamphlet calling for the release of Marwan Barghouthi as part of the peace process.

In brief the pamphlet says:

The death of Nelson Mandela reminds us that often the first step towards the resolution of a conflict is the release from prison of a national leader who has the authority to unite, to negotiate and to resolve.

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jomo Kenyatta are all examples of national leaders who were released by the British so that they could negotiate their countries’ independence.  The pattern was repeated in South Africa when Mandela went from a prison cell to the presidents’ palace in just four years.

It will be twelve years on April 15th since Israeli security agents, posing as ambulance workers, seized Barghouthi and took him to an Israeli prison. 

But even after 12 years in an Israeli jail Barghouthi remains one of Palestine’s most popular politicians – capable, according to the polls, of beating any other candidate for the presidency. Many believe he could come out of prison, stand for election, win the presidency, unite the Palestinian factions, negotiate a settlement, put it to his people, win their support and then preside over a process of “truth and reconciliation” in a newly-independent country.

Timeline of event

March 28: Publication of pamphlet entitled “Free Marwan Barghouthi” by Palestine Briefing.  Copies will be available at the meeting or from info@palestinebriefing.org

March 29: Israel due to release final group of pre-1992 Palestinian prisoners as part of agreement with US Secretary of State John Kerry

March 30: Palestinian Land Day

April 1: Ahmed Kathrada visiting the UK, supporting the Free Marwan Barghouti Campaign

April 8: Foreign & Commonwealth Office questions

April 15: 12th anniversary of Marwan Barghouthi’s imprisonment

April 29: Final day of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry

Read the Free Marwan Barghouthi pamphlet now

Children in detention

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2013 [OfficialReport, column 745] on Israel: children in detention, if he will make a statement on his discussions with the Israeli Attorney-General. [162177]
Alistair Burt: On 20 June, I met with Israeli Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was accompanied by a senior delegation, including Deputy Attorney-General Shai Nitzan and the Israeli ambassador to London. We discussed a range of issues including the treatment of children in detention, the use of live fire in the Gaza buffer zone and in dealing with non-violent protests and demolition of Palestinian property.
On the question of child detainees we discussed the recommendations in Baroness Scotland’s report. I welcomed steps that Israel has taken of late to reduce the gap between provisions for Israeli and Palestinian children including: raising the age of majority to 18; reducing the time period by which an arrested minor must be brought before a judge formalising the right of a parent/guardian to be present in court; and introducing a special court for minors.
We also discussed the need for further progress. In particular, building on the report’s recommendations, we believe it is important to ensure: systematic use of audio-visual recording when questioning children; an end to solitary confinement for children; and notification of arrest in Arabic to parents/guardians so that they can support children in the legal process.

Record number of Questions on Palestine

Pressure builds for a total stop on settlement trade 
Will the Government put any economic pressure on the Israelis to stop expanding their illegal settlements in the West Bank so that negotiations on a settlement with the Palestinians can resume?
In Tuesday’s Foreign Office questions there were a record number of questions – 7 out of 15 – focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict and all but one of them critical of the Israeli government – a sign of how opinion is shifting within the House of Commons.
But the answers brought no more clarity about the Government’s intentions.  The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, placed all his hopes on an American effort to revive the peace process when President Obama visits Israel and Palestine later this month.
He also repeated his promise to “incentivise” and if need be “disincentivise” either side from actions, such as building illegal settlements, which were an obstacle to the resumption of negotiations.
Middle East minister Alistair Burt repeated his mantra that “we do not believe in a boycott”, but MPs were left guessing what the difference might be between a boycott or sanctions and “disincentivisation”.
Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab) urged the minister to focus on areas where he could do something that would make a difference:
“What he can do something about is the import of illegal goods from settlements, which are running at eight times the level of imports from all Palestinians. Will he now take steps to prevent the import of goods from illegal settlements to the UK?”
But the minister would only say that he would work with European partners on the possibility of extending voluntary labelling of Israeli settlement goods brought in by the last government.
Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab) asked the Foreign Secretary to agree that the starting point for negotiations should be the legal status quo—that the whole of the West Bank and east Jerusalem is Palestinian land, as agreed unanimously by the UN Security Council – and not “facts on the ground” created by illegal settlement building.
Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab) said he seemed to expect Palestinians to have the patience of Job as they were facing “the single largest proposed demolition of Palestinian homes since 1967” in the Silwan areas close to the old city of Jerusalem.
“What will he do to try to instil a sense of reality among the Israeli authorities to stop this unlawful theft of Palestinian land, which can only hinder the search for a two-state solution?”
Chris Williamson (Derby North) (Lab) asked the Foreign Secretary to accept that a freeze on settlement building is a requirement imposed by international law, not a precondition imposed by the Palestinians.
Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD)  raised the segregation of public transport in Israel with “settler-only” buses and “Palestinian” buses, introduced this week with echoes of apartheid South Africa 25 years ago and of the southern states of the USA 50 years ago.
“Appeasing the racist regime in Israel must stop. Will the Minister, with his European Union colleagues, end our cosy relationship in view of such behaviour?” 
David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab) said that the crux of the matter was that Israeli governments did not believe there would be any serious consequences as a result of what they did.
“Can one understand the sheer anger, resentment and frustration of the Palestinians who see no political progress at all? What would we do if we were in the same position as the Palestinians in the occupied territories?”
Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con) said no other country would allow large numbers of migrants to occupy its land, denying the land to local people?
“Why is so much energy put into the likes of Syria after two years, when nothing appears to be done about Palestine’s West Bank, and in particular East Jerusalem, after 40 years?”
Middle East minister Alistair Burt agreed that the barrier between Israelis and Palestinians was getting more and more severe and the opportunities for people to live together in the future were getting more and more remote.
Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD) said many well-informed commentators and analysts believe that that time for a two-state solution “has now gone”.
The Foreign Secretary said that while he thought that the time for it was “slipping away” and that 2013 might be the last chance, he did not think that the time had yet gone.
Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con) asked the Foreign Secretary what he would do if the American peace effort failed “as all the others have”? Was it not time to make it clear to the Israeli authorities that their flagrant breach of international law would finally have to be met by some serious consequences?
The Foreign Secretary argued that “we need to allow time and space for this American effort to develop as President Obama visits the region later in the month.
“But I believe that it will important for us to be able to say … what we will do to support the process and to incentivise the parties involved. Of course, it may also be open to us to disincentivise—if I may use that word—those parties at crucial moments.”
Mr Hague first used these words in December when he told the Commons that he had been talking to the French and German Foreign Ministers “about how we can more actively support a US initiative .. with European states contributing to incentives and disincentives for both sides to return to negotiations”.
He repeated the same formula in January when Labour front bencher Ian Lucas asked if he would “use the wish for Israeli to develop stronger trading relations with the European Union as a means of achieving progress in the Middle East”.
MPs returning from visits to Palestine
Pleas for hunger-strikers and Gaza fishermen
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary may not be aware that last Saturday, in Palestine, I visited the mothers and surviving family members—of Ayman Ismail, who is being held in administrative detention and has been on hunger strike for 246 days, and of Samer Issawi, who is being held on trumped-up charges after being tried twice, once by a civil court which said that he should be released tomorrow and once by a military court which is holding him for 20 years, He has been on hunger strike for 223 days, and is in a critical condition. Will the Foreign Secretary make clear to Netanyahu that if these men die, their blood will be on his hands?
Sarah Teather (Brent Central) (LD): I recently visited Gaza as part of a cross-party delegation with Interpal. While there I was alarmed to witness, on three different occasions, the shooting at and intimidation of Palestinian fishing boats that appeared to be clearly inside the six-mile limit agreed by the ceasefire. Earlier, the Foreign Secretary roundly condemned, as is right and proper, the firing of rockets into Israel, but does he agree that peace depends on both sides sticking to the terms of the ceasefire, including Israeli naval ships?
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Like the hon. Members for Brent Central (Sarah Teather) and for Kettering (Mr Hollobone), I was on an Interpal delegation to Gaza last week. I would be grateful if the Minister could tell us what is being done to lift the blockade on Gaza so that the terrible water situation can be addressed. Sewage cannot be processed, fresh water is unobtainable because of the pollution of the aquifer, and the material to set up a desalination plant or something like it cannot be brought in to provide a decent standard of living for the people of Gaza.