asked Her Majesty's Government:
What action they and the quartet will take to prevent the closing down of the electricity plant in Gaza; what is their assessment of the humanitarian consequences of the absence of electricity there; and whether, following 72 deaths of patients unable to leave Gaza for medical treatment elsewhere, they will secure exit permits for all urgent cases. [HL1535]
The Government continue to believe that Israeli security and Palestinian suffering and hardship need to be addressed together, and they can be addressed only through mutual recognition, which will be vital to long-term stability in the area.
As my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for International Development said on 21 January: “The recent escalation of violence between Gazans and Israelis is extremely grave .... The rising number of rocket and sniper attacks from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable, as is the number of Palestinian civilian casualties. We do not support Israel's decision to close all crossings into Gaza, preventing the delivery of vital humanitarian supplies as well as fuel to the Gaza power station. Reports that electricity has been cut due to fuel shortage are particularly alarming and require urgent attention. Continued fuel shortages will have immediate humanitarian consequences, including on the supply of clean water”. On 17 December 2007, the quartet called for the “continued provision of essential services, including fuel and power supplies”.
Israel allowed limited fuel and humanitarian supplies to resume on 22 January. Some Palestinians have also been allowed to leave for medical treatment. We continue to call on Israel to fulfil its obligations to provide essential services, including medical treatment.