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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take at the United Nations on allegations of (i) the use by Hamas of human shields in Gaza and (ii) the storage of weapons by Hamas among women and children in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. (247984)

We condemn all abuse of innocent civilians. UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which was proposed by the UK, was emphatic in its condemnation of all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Palestinian Authority and (b) Hamas on seeking a lasting ceasefire in Gaza. (248154)

We are in close contact with the Palestinian Authority. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke to President Abbas on 14 January.

We share the position of the Quartet concerning contacts with Hamas: that for such contacts to be useful Hamas should reject violence, recognise Israel and accept previous agreements. We are however in close contact with the Arab League and its members states. We support Egyptian engagement with Hamas in order to achieve an immediate and permanent ceasefire.