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Palestinians: Politics and Government

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of security arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza. (138442)

We are concerned about the security situation in Gaza. The recent intra-Palestinian violence, which started on 13 May, has left 54 Palestinians dead. We welcome the ceasefire, which was agreed on 19 May, to end this violence. However, the on-going launching of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and the resulting Palestinian casualties are of serious concern. As the Minister for the Middle East my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) said on 21 May in a press conference following the Israeli raids on Gaza:

“For the sake of the people of Gaza and southern Israel, we want to see a complete halt to internal violence in Gaza and to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. The continuing violence is creating a situation of intolerable suffering for those living in the Gaza Strip, and taking its toll on the residents of Sderot”.

We are also concerned by the movement restrictions placed upon Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has noted that access to parts of the West Bank, such as East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, have not improved due to a high number of checkpoints (537 as of April), roadblocks, the barrier and a complex system of permits. In Gaza, the regular closure of the Rafah crossing point and lack of access to the West Bank has had a detrimental effect on the population. We continue to raise our concerns about movement restrictions with the Israeli Government and call upon both parties to implement the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.