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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the use of longer-range Katyusha rockets in attacks on Israel on the political situation in that country; and what representations he has received on options for the prevention of the use of such weapons. (200351)

In recent months Katyusha rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. These rockets have a longer range, which brings more Israeli towns, citizens and infrastructure facilities within striking distance. The Government continue to call on all Palestinian factions in Gaza to stop attacks, including rocket attacks. They aim to target civilians and to undermine the Annapolis process and escalate an already tense situation.

At the same time, Israel must ensure its actions are in accordance with international law. It is important that all parties find a way to restore calm for the sake of the populations on both sides.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the recent increase in rocket attacks by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on the security situation in Israel; and if he will make a statement. (200352)

The UK is deeply concerned by rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli citizens. The launching of rockets against Israeli civilian targets and all forms of violence must stop. Violence serves only to undermine the prospects for peace and security in the region.

The Government continue to call on all Palestinian factions to stop attacks, including rocket attacks, which target civilians and only escalate an already tense situation. At the same time, Israel must ensure its actions are in accordance with international law. It is important for both sides to exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from the use of force.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions on the security situation in Gaza, including most recently with Israeli Defence Minister Barak and with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni on 17 April. Our embassy in Tel Aviv and our consulate in Jerusalem regularly meet with Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors to discuss various issues, including the situation in Gaza.