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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will refer the conflict in Gaza to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation. (247791)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House on 19 January 2008, Official Report, column 501:

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them.”

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers and (c) officials in his Department have had with (i) Arab states and (ii) the government of Israel on the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab lands; what response was received from each; and if he will make a statement. (247990)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will instruct the United Kingdom ambassador to the United Nations to make representations against the reported use by Israel of depleted uranium shells and projectiles in the invasion of Gaza. (248769)

It is not clear whether Israeli forces have used depleted uranium munitions. We have made clear to the Israeli Government that they should do everything in their power to avoid innocent casualties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli government on the reported use of depleted uranium shells and projectiles in the invasion of Gaza. (248771)

It is not clear whether Israeli forces have used depleted uranium munitions. We made clear to the Israeli Government that they should do everything in their power to avoid innocent casualties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) his Israeli counterpart and (b) officials of the International Criminal Court on investigation of Israel's Gaza military operation. (249089)

[holding answer 20 January 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been in frequent contact with Foreign Minister Livni and Defence Minister Barak.

He has had no contact with officials from the International Criminal Court.

As the Foreign Secretary told the House on 19 January 2008, Official Report, column 501:

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them.”

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the alleged hijacking of aid convoys by Hamas in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. (250220)

We are aware of reports that Hamas has been taking control of aid sent to Gaza from Arab countries.

We have repeatedly called publicly and privately for full and safe access for humanitarian agencies so that help can reach those in need. We urge all parties to respect their obligations, and to ensure the safe and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the number of (a) women and (b) children who were (i) killed, (ii) seriously injured and (iii) slightly injured in Gaza as a result of being struck by rockets aimed at Israel in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (250228)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take of Article 13 of the Hamas charter in assessing Hamas's suitability as a partner for peace in the Middle East; what recent representations he has received on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (250229)

We have consistently made clear that to be a credible partner in peace Hamas need to accept the Quartet Principles of recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreement with Israel and rejection of violence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the role of Iran in relation to the (a) funding, (b) training and (c) arming of (i) Hezbollah, (ii) Hamas and (iii) al-Qaeda; and if he will make a statement. (250230)

We have serious concerns about Iranian support for Hezbollah. Iran provides Hezbollah with significant financial resources, military equipment and training. Many of the most lethal and sophisticated weapons that Hezbollah used during the Israel/Lebanon conflict were of Iranian manufacture or procured from Iran. Such support is unacceptable and only serves to undermine regional security. Arms supplies to Hezbollah are contrary to the arms embargo established by UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701.

We also have long-standing concerns about the support that Iran provides in the form of funding, arms and training to Palestinian Rejectionist Groups including Hamas, which are undermining peace in the middle east through violence. We hope that Iran will give political and diplomatic support to the Palestinian Authority in its attempts to build institutions and improve security.

We understand that Iran continues to hold some al-Qaeda (AQ) members in custody, but that members of AQ and affiliated groups have used, and possibly continue to use, Iran as a base, transit route and refuge. We have urged Iran to act against this and to co-operate fully with the rest of the international community against terrorism, as required by UNSCR 1373.

The UK would like to see Iran making a positive contribution to creating a secure, stable and prosperous middle east. But its current behaviour is a cause for serious concern for us and others. Iran needs to work with the international community and its regional neighbours to restore confidence in its intentions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to report the Israeli Government to the UN War Crimes Tribunal; and if he will make a statement. (250416)

[holding answer 22 January 2009]: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House on 19 January 2008, Official Report, column 501:

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them.”

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) meetings, (b) telephone calls and (c) e-mails has he had with the Israeli ambassador since 27 December 2008. (250417)

I have met ambassador Prossor on several occasions during this period. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been in direct regular communication with Foreign Minister Livni and Defence Minister Barak.