Skip to main content


Volume 519: debated on Tuesday 30 November 2010

3. Whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the application of international law in respect of Gaza. (27078)

I have had no discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on that matter.

What is the position under international law when Israel intercepts ships carrying aid for Gaza? Can the Attorney-General tell me what the legal position is there?

The Foreign Secretary deplored the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza flotilla. He also stressed the need to establish the facts about the incident, without which, if I may say so to the hon. Gentleman, it is impossible to ascertain what laws if any might have been breached and, especially, what was done during the operation to prevent deaths and injuries. My right hon. Friend therefore welcomed the United Nations Secretary-General’s establishment of a panel of inquiry into the interception and both Israel’s and Turkey’s commitment to participate. It is also vital that existing national investigations proceed swiftly, transparently and rigorously to ensure accountability.

What discussions and activities does the Attorney-General engage in with either Foreign Office Ministers here or Law Officers in other countries to ensure that countries such as Israel comply with their international law obligations and with United Nations decisions?

I certainly consult, and discuss matters with, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary as and when problems arise, and the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind also that my right hon. Friend has legal advisers in his Department who can help him with his work. The United Kingdom takes very seriously international law obligations and the maintenance of international standards of behaviour, and I can therefore reassure the hon. Gentleman that it is a matter with which the Government will continue to engage.