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Palestine

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Israeli Government regarding (a) the killing of a Palestinian girl and the injuring of 12 of her relatives when Israeli shells hit their home in the Gaza Strip on 10 April 2006 and (b) the reduction by the Israeli army of the artillery margin of safety in which shells can be fired near civilian areas from 300 to 100 metres. (75582)

The Government have made repeated representations to the Government of Israel to exercise restraint in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We have expressed our concern over the shelling of the Gaza Strip and over targeted killings.

We have also regularly stressed, in our contacts with the Israeli Government, the need for their operations to be in line with international law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on contact with Hamas; and how this policy is applied in multilateral forums. (76203)

The Government have a policy of non-contact with Hamas, in line with our EU and Quartet partners. In order to work towards our national and regional priorities, we will continue to attend a number of international fora to which we normally contribute, and whose work we value, regardless of Hamas attendance. Ministers and officials will, however, avoid all bilateral contact with Hamas at these events, in line with our policy of non-contact.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of suspension of aid to the Palestinian authority on the living standards of the Palestinian population. (76392)

The Government continues to monitor the humanitarian and security situation in the Occupied Territories closely.

Together with our Quartet partners, other donors and international financial institutions, we are looking at ways to provide direct support to the Palestinian people through the establishment of the Temporary International Mechanism. This will be discussed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council today, as well as at the European Council next week.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will issue travel warnings for British citizens travelling in the Palestinian territories to take account of recent deaths of British citizens in the territories. (76393)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regularly updates its travel advice in light of recent events. In addition, our consulate general in Jerusalem has recently set up a system whereby residents and visitors in the Palestinian territories can register for text message updates. We currently advise against all travel to the Gaza Strip and all but essential travel to the West Bank. This information can also be found on the FCO website at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket%2FXcelerate%2FShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390590&a=KCountryAdvice&aid=1013618385504.