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Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When a British diplomat last visited the Gaza Strip; and whether they have proposals for improving access and freedom of movement for the inhabitants of Gaza.[HL5277]

Our officials at the consulate-general in Jerusalem visit Gaza regularly and have been there a number of times this year, most recently during the week beginning 10 August.

We continue to call on the Israeli Government to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip and to allow humanitarian supplies, commercial goods and people through.

We are also working with the UN, which takes the lead on suggesting what immediate steps could be taken to improve the humanitarian situation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they, the quartet and the quartet representative are taking to ensure that Gaza receives parts and equipment needed to maintain and repair water and sewerage services; and what further steps they will take to secure sufficient fuel to allow the Gaza electricity generating plant to operate at full capacity. [HL5514]

The quartet representative is developing a system whereby the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities agree a common list of the goods and materials essential to the maintenance of water and waste water facilities, and the import of these into Gaza is rapidly facilitated. The quartet representative continues also to facilitate the completion of the North Gaza emergency sewage treatment project, phase I of which will be complete on 4 November.

The European Commission (EC) is committed to continue to pay for delivery of 2.5 million litres of fuel to the Gaza power plant per week. The UK has contributed to this by providing £30.45 million to the EC temporary international aid mechanism and to its successor PEGASE in 2008. In addition, the UK accounts for 15.6 per cent of the EC's overall 2008 budget by providing core funding. The EC recently pledged an additional €82 million in financial support to the Palestinian Authority's budget. Of this, €10 million will be used to pay for fuel to the Gaza power plant. To keep fuel supplies to the power plant stable for the rest of the year, the EC needs an additional €12 million. It has requested additional funding from donors. So far only Belgium and Germany have come forward with additional funds but we are hopeful that others will too. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.