House of Lords
Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative)
When the Parliamentary Under-Secretary State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend Mr Burt visited Gaza in July 2011, he saw how the Israeli restrictions on movements of goods and people, including on access to agricultural and fishing areas, do tremendous damage to the economy and living standards of ordinary people in Gaza and serve to strengthen, not weaken, Hamas. The current situation fosters radicalisation and empowers Hamas, while punishing the ordinary people of Gaza. An improved economy is not only essential for the people of Gaza, but firmly in Israel's security interests. In close co-ordination with our European Union partners and the Office of the Quartet Representative, we continue to press the Israeli Government at ministerial and official level to ease access restrictions. We welcome some recent small steps in this direction, including the first exports of textile goods from Gaza to the UK.