NEW PUBLICATION: THE HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
DON’T MISS TRUCE OPPORTUNITY TO TACKLE GAZA CRISIS, MPs URGE
The Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas offers an important opportunity to ease the restrictions imposed by Israel on Gaza’s borders which have resulted in shortages of food, fuel and water and placed the population of Gaza under severe pressure, says today’s Report from the International Development Committee on The Humanitarian and Development Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the Committee said:
“The takeover of Gaza by Hamas was neither justified nor acceptable. However, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has seriously deteriorated since the closure of its borders. Israel has obligations to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population, which it has not met. We believe the situation was allowed to continue for too long and that the Quartet did not exert sufficient pressure on Israel to open the crossings.”
The Report says that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of the Barrier on occupied land are counter-productive to the peace process. It argues that these activities are illegal and they create “new facts on the ground” whose removal will have to be negotiated.
The Report welcomes the initiatives of Tony Blair, the Middle East Quartet Representative to champion a number of economic projects in the West Bank which the Committee believes will help to build confidence in the Palestinian economy. However, the Committee warns that these projects must facilitate the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state and must not legitimise the Israeli occupation. The Chairman of the Committee said:
“The West Bank occupation must not be legitimised. There is a danger of creating two parallel universes in the West Bank, with a series of Palestinian enclaves served by separate road and entry systems alongside Israel’s own network. This must not be allowed to happen. Nevertheless we welcome the efforts being made by the Quartet Representative, in cooperation with both the Israeli and Palestinian governments, to pursue economic initiatives to relieve the hardship faced by the Palestinian people.”
The Committee’s inquiry follows its previous Report in 2007 when the international community had withheld funds from the Palestinian Authority. The situation has now changed and the Committee welcomes the resumption of aid to the Palestinian Authority and calls on donors to ensure such aid is predictable.
The Report comments that there needs to be a fundamental change in the current restrictions on movement and access in order to see lasting economic progress. The Committee welcomes Tony Blair’s efforts to reduce strategic checkpoints but emphasises that Palestinians should be able to move around their own country for education, healthcare, business and social reasons irrespective of whether their journeys are regarded as strategically significant to international negotiations. Neither Israel nor the international community should lose sight of this.
The Report argues that the Annapolis peace process will not succeed without some kind of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. It calls on the Quartet to use the opportunity provided by the truce to begin a dialogue with Hamas with the objective of moving Hamas towards establishing a functional working relationship with Fatah and acceptance of the Quartet’s three principles: recognising Israel, renouncing violence and abiding by previous agreements.
The Report can be viewed on the Committee’s website at:
http://www.parliament.uk/indcom, and can also be ordered from The Stationery Office (Tel: 0845 702 3474) or from the Parliamentary Bookshop (Tel: 020 7219 3890),
Committee membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Stephen Crabb MP (Con), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Jim Sheridan MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem).
Committee Contact: Dr Anna Dickson, 020 7219 2738, or
Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589, or
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:
Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474)