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Palestine

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit. (90015)

The current phase of DFID support for the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation will end in November 2006. DFID is conducting a completion report reviewing this project over its entire period.

The review's initial findings are that the project has largely achieved its purpose to ensure: (i) effective support to the Palestinian negotiating teams in preparation for, and during, permanent status negotiations and (ii) support to current work intended to promote the resumption of permanent status talks.

The main successes of the project have been: the formation of an effective negotiations support team, a comprehensive set of files to inform final status negotiations, valuable legal support including that provided around the Gaza disengagement process, and the implementation of a communications strategy which helped raise awareness domestically and internationally on key Palestinian negotiating positions. Key project weaknesses which prevented full achievement of the project purpose were: the lack of a PLO negotiations strategy or clear PLO structure for prosecuting negotiations, the late emergence of a plan for transferring knowledge from the Support Unit to the PLO, and the need for stronger project management in some areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made with the new EU mechanism for funding the Palestinian people; and what contribution the UK is making (a) financially and (b) to the running of the fund. (90020)

The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) has been delivering basic services since July 2006. By the end of September, around 11,900 health care workers, 51,500 of the poorest Palestinian government workers and 40,000 social hardship cases had received basic allowances. The TIM has also provided 1.73 million litres of fuel for hospitals, clinics and water and sanitation facilities in Gaza. This fuel is powering emergency generators to help keep these vital services working after damage to Gaza's only power station in an Israeli air raid. However, the situation in the Palestinian Territories remains very difficult and the security has deteriorated recently. In Gaza many households continue to receive just 6 to 8 hours of electricity per day, and intermittent electricity supply is affecting all key services. Water supply and sanitation services remain limited, with severe implications for health.

The UK has offered to contribute up to £12 million to the TIM and has so far committed £9 million of this to specific programmes. £3 million is providing drugs, medical equipment and other essential supplies to hospitals and clinics. Our second £3 million contribution will finance the operation, maintenance and repair of water, sanitation and electricity services in Gaza and the West Bank. The UK will also make a third contribution to pay allowances to the poorest Palestinian government workers, including teachers, who have suffered a severe loss in income over recent months. This is on top of the UK's share of European Community funding through the TIM, which amounts to a further £9 million approximately.

The European Commission has established a team in Jerusalem to manage the implementation of the TIM. Along with several EU member states, we have seconded expertise to this team.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how the country assistance plan for Palestine will be adapted under the White Paper proposals. (90021)

DFID’s Country Assistance Plan for Palestinians will aim to contribute to the following:

(i) supporting prospects for peace; (ii) more effective, accountable and inclusive Palestinian institutions and governance; and (iii) more effective humanitarian and development assistance. These objectives are all directly relevant to the new White Paper. The main challenge to meeting them is that the platform of the current Hamas Government fails to reflect principles set out by the Quartet. We are keeping the situation under close review.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the implementation of the Palestinian Negotiation Support Unit review. (90139)

The current phase of DFID support for the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation will end in November 2006. DFID is conducting a project completion report reviewing this project over its entire period. This will be finalised by 1 November.

The review’s initial findings are that the project has largely achieved its purpose to ensure: (i) effective support to the Palestinian negotiating teams in preparation for, and during, permanent status negotiations and (ii) support to current work intended to promote the resumption of permanent status talks.

The main successes of the project have been: the formation of a dynamic and effective negotiations support team, a comprehensive set of files to inform final status negotiations, valuable legal support including that provided around the Gaza disengagement process, and the implementation of a communications strategy which helped raise awareness domestically and internationally on key Palestinian negotiating positions. Key project weaknesses which prevented full achievement of the project purpose were: the lack of a PLO negotiations strategy or clear PLO structure for prosecuting negotiations, the late emergence of a plan for transferring knowledge from the Support Unit to the PLO, and the need for stronger project management in some areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what revisions are being made to the County Assistance Plan for the Palestinians following the election of Hamas. (90142)

The position of the Hamas Government fails to reflect Quartet principles. Accordingly, DFID has reviewed its projects to ensure that no aid passes through the Hamas Government or its Ministries. Further information is at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/countries/asia/palestinian-ipu.pdf.

Without lasting peace, the prospects for economic development, reduction of poverty and improved quality of life for the Palestinians are slight. The objectives in DFID's Country Assistance Plan: more effective, accountable and inclusive PA institutions; more effective humanitarian and development assistance; and enhanced prospects for peace, are likely to remain valid. However, DFID will keep this under close review.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contributions the UK is making to the EU mechanism for funding to the Palestinians. (90143)

I have made available up to £12 million to the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) to help meet Palestinians basic needs. When added to the UK share of the European Commission’s contribution, the total UK contribution will be about £25 million.

DFID announced its first contribution of £3 million to the TIM on 11 August 2006. This was to fund essential supplies in the health sector. In the Gaza Strip 14 per cent. of drugs from essential drugs lists are out of stock.

At the Stockholm Donor Conference on 1 September, I committed a second contribution of £3 million. This was for essential operation, maintenance and repair work to keep water, sanitation and electricity services running. I am now considering a further contribution.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contributions the UK is making to EU mechanisms for funding to the Palestinians. (91610)

The UK has offered to contribute up to £12 million to the TIM and has so far committed £9 million of this to specific programmes. £3 million is providing drugs, medical equipment and other essential supplies to hospitals and clinics. Our second £3 million contribution will finance the operation, maintenance and repair of water, sanitation and electricity services in Gaza and the West Bank. The UK will make a third UK contribution to pay allowances to the poorest Palestinian Government workers, including teachers, who have suffered a severe loss in income over recent months. This is on top of the UK’s share of European Community funding through the TIM, which amounts to a further £9 million approximately.