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Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 5 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the new Israeli travel restrictions on aid workers in the West Bank; and whether they have assessed the restrictions' likely impact on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's ability to undertake humanitarian work. [HL510]

UN staff have informed our consulate-general in Jerusalem that they have experienced increased demands for the searches of their vehicles as well as requirements that they obtain permits to enter the seam zone areas (area of land in the West Bank located east of the 1967 borders and west of the barrier). These requirements are creating major operational difficulties for the UN Relief and Works Agency, leading to delays, higher costs and reduced outreach, ultimately limiting its ability to meet the needs of vulnerable Palestinians. Other international agencies, such as the World Food Programme, have been affected by these restrictions.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised our concerns about movement and access on his recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 17 and 19 November.