The British Government’s current position on Israel and Palestine

Written Questions and Answers that can be found in Hansard ((the Official Report) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.)

These are government answers to recent Parliamentary written Questions

The occupation of Palestinian land by Israel

Q Asked by Lord Judd Asked on: 08 May 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Occupied Territories: USA HL7620

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of the United States on the decision no longer to refer to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” in the United States State Department’s report, Israel and the Golan Heights 2017 Human Rights Report, published on 20 April, for the first time since the State Department began to issue Human Rights Reports in 1999; what is their assessment of the implications of this change for international law and United States policy; and whether they will re-affirm their own position on those territories and on Gaza.

A  Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Answered on: 22 May 2018

While we have not raised this specific issue with the US, the UK position remains clear. We consider that the level of control that Israel retains over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza amounts to occupation under international law, Hence Israel’s presence is governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a state party. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and we continue to call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 17 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. HL12379

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the actions of Israeli forces (1) entering Palestinian villages, refugee camps and towns during the night or early in the morning, and (2) responding to protests by using teargas and live ammunition.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: 3 January 2019

We have repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about its conduct in its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We remain concerned about the manner in which the Israel Defence Forces police non-violent protests and the border areas, including use of live ammunition.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge:  on: 29 October 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Palestinians. HL11106

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the banning of Palestinian flags in East Jerusalem.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 09 November 2018

While we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities, we recognise that freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest are fundamental human rights. The UK is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and compliance with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). We will continue to raise concerns with the Israeli Government on compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s occupation of the OPTs.

Q Asked by Wes Streeting: (Ilford North)  on: 26 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Palestinians: Human Rights. 195633

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to defend the human rights of Palestinians in the Palestinian Territories.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt:  on: 04 December 2018

​We remain seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). We continue to raise concerns with the Israeli Government on instances constituting a breach of international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s occupation of the OPTs, including demolitions, settlement construction, and the treatment of children in military detention. We also raise our concerns over human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and oppose the human rights abuses by Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli Settlement Building

Q Asked by Mrs Anne Main (St Albans), on: 19 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. 203855

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effects of Israel’s settlement expansion on the welfare of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt: on: 08 January 2019

​I issued a statement on 27 December expressing our disappointment in the latest announcement by the Government of Israel to advance over 2,800 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

 

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge  on: 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians. HL12685

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to protect Palestinians in the West Bank whose land is being used by Israeli settlers to build new settlements under the protection of the Israeli military.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 21 January 2019

​The Government funds a number of projects to monitor and report on settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and to protect vulnerable Palestinian communities from the effects of settlement expansion. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa issued a statement on 27 December expressing our disappointment in the latest announcement by the Government of Israel to advance over 2,800 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

Settler violence towards Palestinians

 

Q  Asked by Lord Hylton on: 29 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians HL13216

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the manslaughter charge given to a teenager for the death of Aisha al-Rabi in the West Bank, whether they have held discussions with the government of Israel about the equal treatment in law of Israeli settlers and Palestinians who have committed acts of violence.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 11 February 2019

​Whilst we have not raised this issue specifically with the Israeli Government, we condemn all violence by settlers against Palestinians and urge the Israeli authorities to thoroughly investigate every instance and bring those responsible to justice. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians HL12684

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Israel following reports of attacks against Palestinian farmers and shepherds by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 21 January 2019

​​We are aware of reports about attacks against Palestinian farmers. While we have not raised this specific issue, officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of settler violence and the importance of accountability with the Israeli authorities on 3 January. Our Ambassador to Israel discussed the issue of settler violence with the Israeli Attorney General on 6 November. The British Government condemns any violence by settlers against Palestinians. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from all acts of violence.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 26 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Hebron: Ambulance Services. HL11818

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about allegations of an attack by Jewish settlers in the Old City of Hebron on Red Crescent ambulances trying to transfer Palestinian patients to hospital.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 06 December 2018

​While we have not made representations on this specific issue, officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of settler violence and the importance of accountability with the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 29 October. The British Government condemns any violence by settlers against Palestinians. We are clear that medical staff should have the protection that allows them to do their jobs in safety.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 12 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: West Bank: Sewage. HL12271

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the contamination of schools and communities in the West Bank with sewage, reportedly dumped by Israeli settlers.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 21 December 2018

​While we have not raised this specific issue with the Israeli authorities, we have made clear to the Israeli authorities our concerns about the humanitarian and environmental impact of the damage to water sources and the destruction of Palestinian agricultural land that has been caused by settlement-related activity. We condemn the destruction of Palestinian property and have called on the Israeli authorities to cease such activity.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: West Bank. HL12681

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the safety and security of the Palestinian population following a reported increase in Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, during the second half of December 2018.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 21 January 2019

​Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of settler violence and the importance of accountability with the Israeli authorities on 3 January. Our Ambassador to Israel discussed the issue of settler violence with the Israeli Attorney General on 6 November. The British Government condemns any violence by settlers against Palestinians. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from all acts of violence.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 24 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians. HL13137

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the government of Israel to protect Palestinian farmers in Area C of the West Bank whose trees and vineyards have been destroyed by settlers.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 05 February 2019

Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the issue of settler violence and the importance of accountability with the Israeli authorities on 3 January. We are aware of the difficulties facing Palestinian olive growers. We have expressed our serious concerns to the Israeli Government and security officials about the destruction of olive trees and the prevention of access to them on a number of occasions. The British Government condemns any violence by settlers against Palestinians. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from all acts of violence. ​

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 08 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israeli Settlements: Palestinians. HL12685

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to protect Palestinians in the West Bank whose land is being used by Israeli settlers to build new settlements under the protection of the Israeli military.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  21 January 2019

​The Government funds a number of projects to monitor and report on settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and to protect vulnerable Palestinian communities from the effects of settlement expansion. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa issued a statement on 27 December expressing our disappointment in the latest announcement by the Government of Israel to advance over 2,800 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions. We regularly raise our grave concerns on this issue with the Government of Israel and urge it to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.

Restrictions of movement in the West Bank

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 29 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: West Bank. HL13267

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about the number of road closures in the West Bank.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 11 February 2019

​We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement within the West Bank, including to and from East Jerusalem. Through our Embassy in Tel Aviv we have lobbied the authorities on the issue of movement and access. We continue to work closely with the Quartet and EU partners to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 14 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Palestinians: Travel Restrictions. HL12815

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the closure of a checkpoint south of Jenin, following reports that the closure prevented students from attending school exams.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 28 January 2019

While we have not raised this particular case, we remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement within the West Bank. Through our Embassy in Tel Aviv we have lobbied the Israeli authorities on the issue of movement and access.

 

Forced Eviction of Palestinians

 

Q Asked by Mrs Anne Main: (St Albans) on: 18 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians, 203256

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the Government of Israel (a) ending forcible transfer in its planning policies and (b) amending planning legislation to ensure planning and construction rights for Palestinian residents in the West Bank and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt: on: 28 December 2018

​The UK is gravely concerned by Israeli proposals to relocate Palestinian and Bedouin populations, which the UN has said could constitute forcible transfer. We have been clear about our grave concerns with the Israeli authorities and we regularly raise the matter through our Embassy in Tel Aviv. We recognise that Palestinians face severe difficulty in securing building permissions for homes and infrastructure in East Jerusalem and Area C. We continue to urge the Israeli authorities to develop improved mechanisms for zoning, planning and permitting in Area C for the benefit of the Palestinian population, including by facilitating local Palestinian participation in such processes.

 

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge:  on: 27 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Evictions. HL11868

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the number of evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 10 December 2018

We regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem, both bilaterally and in co-operation with EU partners. These concerns include: the evictions of Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property; the construction of illegal Israeli settlements; removal of residency rights from Palestinians; possible unilateral changes to the municipal borders; and severe difficulties of access to Jerusalem for Palestinians from the West Bank, or for those residents of Jerusalem who live beyond the Separation Barrier. The EU issued a statement on 24 November raising concerns over this issue.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 12 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Evictions. HL12272

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about plans to evict residents of the villages of Silwan and Batn al-Hawa in East Jerusalem following the decision by the Israeli High Court of Justice to refuse those residents’ petition and instead refer that petition to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 21 December 2018

We regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities, both bilaterally and in co-operation with EU partners. We supported an EU statement on 24 November raising concerns over recent developments which could lead to the eviction of Palestinians from Silwan. Officials from our Consulate-General in Jerusalem and Embassy in Tel Aviv routinely meet Palestinians at risk of eviction from their homes, most recently visiting families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Batn al-Hawa on 13 December.

Q Asked by Louise Haigh: (Sheffield, Heeley) on: 10 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: West Bank. 207316

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the (a) forceable removal of shepherding families in Ibzik, in the Jordan Valley (b) destruction of those communities’ land by large-scale tank manoeuvres and (c) demolition of a school classroom serving those communities.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt:  on: 18 January 2019

Whist we have not raised these specific issues, we regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the Israeli authorities, both bilaterally and in co-operation with EU partners. These concerns include the evictions of Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property, which cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, calls into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution, and, in all but the most exceptional cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law.

Abuse of Palestinian children by Israel

Asked by Baroness Tonge:  on: 27 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. HL11867

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the reported detention of over 900 Palestinian children from January to October 2018, 270 of whom were still detained as of the end of October; and what assessment they have made of whether those children have been denied education, family visits, and medical attention.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 10 December 2018

​The UK is extremely concerned about the treatment of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons. We continue to make representations to the Israeli authorities on this issue at senior levels, and did so most recently on 29 October with the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 29 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: West Bank. HL13268

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to protect Palestinian children in the West Bank from (1) unlawful detention including being detained with no access to legal representation and contact with their parents, and (2) violence and abuse when detained.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 11 February 2019

We continue to have strong concerns about reports of ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military detention. We remain committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention in Israel. We advocate for the mandatory use of audio-visual recording of interrogations, a reduction in the use of single hand ties, alternatives to night arrests and for the Israeli authorities to inform more consistently detained children of their legal rights. I raised the issue of children in detention with Israeli Justice Minister Shaked during my visit to Israel on 11 April 2018. We continue to fund projects providing legal aid to minors and capacity building to local lawyers.

Q Asked by Mrs Anne Main: (St Albans):  on: 18 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. 203254

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps the Government has taken to return the UK lawyer delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to assess the military detention of Palestinian children in the absence of an offer by the Israeli Government to facilitate that contact.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt:  on: 28 December 2018

The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law and obligations. We have offered to help the Israeli authorities through expert-to-expert talks with UK officials. The offer still stands and we hope Israel will take us up on it. While we recognise that Israel has made some improvements, it needs to do much more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care.

The treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention

Q Asked by Lord Hylton:  on: 07 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Palestinians. HL12582

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about that government’s decision to lower prison standards for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel; and what assessment they have made of the impact of those measures.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 21 January 2019

​Whilst we have not raised this specific issue with Israeli authorities, we have previously raised our concerns over the treatment of Palestinian prisoners, especially children, in Israeli detention and encourage for international standards to be upheld.

Q Asked by Lord Hylton:  on: 30 October 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Khalida Jarrar . HL11128

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the government of Israel about the administrative detention imposed since July 2017 of Ms Khalida Jarrar, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly; and if so, what response they received.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 09 November 2018

We remain concerned about Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention. According to international law, this should be used only when security makes it absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice, and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees.

Israel’s Nation State Law

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 26 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel: Politics and Government. HL11814

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent to the government of Israel by four UN Special Rapporteurs which stated that those Rapporteurs held “deep concerns” about the nature of Nation State Law.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: on: 06 December 2018

We have not made an assessment of the letter. Israel’s vibrant civil society and long standing commitment to equality for all its citizens are some of its great strengths as a fellow democracy. But as a friend of Israel, we are concerned about any development which would undermine this commitment, including the Nation State Bill which removes Arabic as an official language.

Freedom of Worship is Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank

Q Asked by Dr David Drew: (Stroud): [N] on: 03 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Churches. 198167

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the (a) Israeli Government and (b) US Administration on the protection of Christian sites of worship in Jerusalem.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt:  on: 06 December 2018

The UK recognises that Jerusalem holds particular significance for many groups, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate General in Jerusalem raise issues of religious freedom with the Israeli and Palestinian governments and are in contact with representatives of churches on a range of issues. We continue to encourage Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem to do all they can to work together to uphold the status quo at all the holy sites in Jerusalem. We have not discussed this issue with the US Administration.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge:  on: 17 December 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Palestinians: Religious Buildings. HL12380

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they will give to the Palestinian National Authority to protect holy sites, including the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

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

The UK’s long standing position is that we support the Oslo Accords that set out a process for the gradual and incremental transfer of a range of responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority. We encourage Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to do all they can to work together to avoid tensions and continue to uphold the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The Government attaches great importance to the holy sites and in the case of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, I visited the mosque last year to both pay my respects, and also to establish how issues of access and maintenance were being addressed.

 

Status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem

 

Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 28 January 2019

Department for International Development: Jerusalem: Palestinians. HL13185

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to protect the rights of those Palestinians in East Jerusalem whose refugee status has been threatened by the withdrawal of funding to UNRWA by the government of the United States.

A Answered by: Lord Bates: on: 11 February 2019

We are concerned about the impact on UNRWA’s activities whenever unexpected reductions occur. Last year the UK led international efforts to help ensure UNRWA’s essential services were maintained, by almost doubling our original core support of £33.5 million to £65.5 million in total, including £5 million for Gaza, and lobbying other donors to step up to ensure the funding burden is shared more evenly across the international community. Both the UK and UNRWA recognise the need for UNRWA to reform to ensure its sustainability and ability to provide essential services to refugees. UNRWA has undertaken significant cost-cutting measures to respond to budget cuts and growing need. We welcome UNRWA’s efforts to broaden its donor base and are encouraging partners to step up with more funding and more predictable disbursements. The UK has a multi-year commitment to support UNRWA and we remain firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees.

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge:  on: 22 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Jerusalem: Palestinians. HL13040

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who have been denied full Israeli citizenship and cannot travel abroad.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:  on: 04 February 2019

We regularly make clear our serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem. We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement to and from East Jerusalem.

Gaza

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge:  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:  on: 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: 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: on: 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: 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: 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: 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.

 

State of Health services in Gaza

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 28 January 2019

Department for International Development: Gaza: Hospitals. HL13186

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that hospitals in Gaza have been closed due to power shortages; and what steps they are taking to ensure that hospitals are able to function.

A Answered by: Lord Bates: on: 11 February 2019

The UK continually monitors the humanitarian situation in Gaza and is ready to respond to spikes in humanitarian need. DFID is aware that hospitals in Gaza continue to face power shortages, although the most recent WHO report suggests that hospitals remain open for now.

To help ensure hospitals in Gaza can continue to provide essential services we provided £1.5 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) OPTs Appeal in 2018. This funding has helped treat patients in 11 hospitals which are under extreme pressure in Gaza by restocking vital medical supplies including surgical equipment, bandages and medicines, and helping provide physical rehabilitation services for around 4,000 people. We will keep our response under review.

 

Q Asked by Lord Hylton: on: 07 January 2019

Department for International Development: Gaza: Public Health. HL12583

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent assessment of the impact on public health in Palestine of (1) the reduction in food aid provided by the World Food Programme, and (2) the level of availability of antibiotics and other medical supplies, water, power and fuel in Gaza.

A Answered by: Lord Bates: on: 21 January 2019

DFID continually assesses the humanitarian context in Gaza, including in the health sector, which remains under significant strain. Recent information from the World Food Programme states that cuts in its funding will affect 193,000 of the poorest people in Gaza and the West Bank as of January 2019. High food insecurity and poverty rates in Gaza contribute to the dire humanitarian situation. Although the recent increase in electricity supply has positively impacted health facilities, there is still a major shortage of essential drugs, including antibiotics and other medical supplies. Movement restrictions on patients seeking medical treatment outside Gaza and access to water also remain critical concerns.

DFID continues to provide assistance in the region, including providing food assistance to the most vulnerable refugees, supporting urgent health needs, preventing the spread of diseases, and improving access to safe water.

 

Unemployment in Gaza

 

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 14 January 2019

Department for International Development:  Gaza: Young People: HL12814

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the World Bank’s findings in October 2018 that there is 70 per cent youth unemployment in Gaza; and what discussions they have had with the government of Israel about what action can be taken to support young people who live there into employment.

A Answered by: Lord Bates: on: 28 January 2019

The UK remains gravely concerned about the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza. 54 per cent of the total population is estimated to be unemployed, including over 70 per cent of young people. Until the blockade of Gaza is eased and its economy allowed to grow unemployment will continue to rise.

HMG officials regularly propose measures to improve the situation in Gaza with Government of Israel officials. These include the adoption of a more transparent process for allowing goods into Gaza and permitting greater exports from the strip. The UK is supporting direct measures to support job creation in Gaza. We will more than double the amount of UK aid spent on economic development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) to around £38 million over the next five years (2018-2023). This will include support to addressing the water and electricity crisis in Gaza and seek to address movement and access restrictions. The Chevening Scholarship Programme, funded by the UK government, brings talented young people from Gaza to study in the UK, helping to provide educative opportunities and develop employment skills.

The Trade with Israel

 

Q Asked by Baroness Tonge: on: 14 January 2019

Department for International Trade: Arms Trade: Israel. HL12816

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they had made of the use of military goods sold to Israel by the UK; and whether they have sought any assurances that such goods are used for defence purposes only.

A Answered by: Baroness Fairhead: on: 28 January 2019

Military items sold to other countries by the UK require export licences. Export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of the application. Signed end user undertakings from the intended recipient, about the intended end use, form part of our consideration but we do not rely solely on these when making our assessment.

Following events in 2018 on the Israel/Gaza border the Government reviewed all extant military export licences for Israel. We have no information to indicate that UK-supplied equipment has been used in a way that is inconsistent with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The Government continues to monitor the situation in Israel and Gaza very closely.

Q Asked by Richard Burden: (Birmingham, Northfield) [N] on: 05 February 2019

Department for International Trade: Trade Agreements: Israel. 216929

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will place in the Library a copy of the draft UK-Israel agreement that has been agreed in principle for trading arrangements after the UK leaves the EU.

A Answered by: George Hollingbery: Answered on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.

Q Asked by Richard Burden: (Birmingham, Northfield)[N] on: 05 February 2019

Department for International Trade: Trade Agreements: Israel. 216930

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the trade deal agreed in principle between the UK and Israel for trade after the UK leaves the EU announced on 23 January 2019 will continue to distinguish in relevant dealings between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

A Answered by: George Hollingbery: on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are

Q Asked by Dr Matthew Offord: (Hendon) on: 04 February 2019

Department for International Development: Occupied Territories: Economic Situation. 216233

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps her Department is taking to develop long-term economic sustainability in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

A Answered by: Alistair Burt: Answered on: 11 February 2019

We have scaled up our work on economic development across the West Bank and Gaza. We are providing up to £38 million over five years (2018-2023) to help tackle the problems of low growth and high unemployment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

Our support will focus on efforts to increase trade and job creation by working with the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to enable greater movement and access for people and goods, and improve water and energy supply, particularly in Gaza. We will also continue to support the implementation of Paris Protocol measures in relation to the transfer of taxes and fees Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and any measures agreed by the parties to transfer the responsibility of revenue collection. Our support in these areas will help thousands of Palestinians in their daily lives, support the financial sustainability of the PA and contribute to preserving the viability of the two-state solution.

Q Asked by Lord Warner:  on: 28 January 2019

Treasury: Double Taxation: Israel. HL13187

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ensure that the UK–Israel tax protocol signed on 17 January does not apply to trade involving illegal settlements.

A Answered by: Lord Bates:  on: 11 February 2019

The Protocol amends the 1962 convention to improve the conditions for cross-border trade and investment. These benefits are in the interests of the UK economy.

The Protocol does not represent any change to the UK’s historic position towards the Occupied PalestinianTerritories, including East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements. The UK’s position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution.

Q Asked by Richard Burden: (Birmingham, Northfield) [N]:  on: 05 February 2019

Department for International Trade. Trade Agreements: Israel. 216931

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the new UK-Israel agreement-in-principle contains a territorial clause limiting its application to within Israel’s pre-June 1967 borders.

A Answered by: George Hollingbery:  on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.