Occupied Palestinian Territories

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

What assessment her Department has made of the effect of restricted humanitarian space on the work of non-governmental organisations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

I think the Secretary of State will be aware that the Government of Israel are attempting to deport Omar Shakir, the country director of Human Rights Watch, for highlighting the impact on the welfare of Palestinians of doing business with illegal Israeli settlements. I welcome the fact that the UK is a party to a statement made to the UN Security Council on Monday asking Israel to allow Human Rights Watch and Mr Shakir to carry on their work unimpeded. Will she echo that call?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Defence

I am happy to echo it. The UK did sign and endorse that statement at the United Nations Security Council, and, as a friend of Israel, we continue to make it clear that a strong, vibrant civil society is in its own interest.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Hamas recently launched a crackdown on dissent against its regime in the Gaza strip. How can we ensure that the human rights of human rights defenders in Gaza are protected?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Secretary of State for International Development, Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Defence

Both my Department and, in particular, the Foreign Office do a tremendous amount of work to support human rights defenders. At the recent Bonn conference, DFID published a paper on how we can support civil society and the governance that surrounds it.