Israel and Palestine: Gaza — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:23 pm on 21st January 2009.

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Photo of Lord Astor of Hever Lord Astor of Hever Shadow Minister, Defence, Shadow Minister, Foreign Affairs, Shadow Minister, International Development 8:23 pm, 21st January 2009

My Lords, the number of speakers from all sides of the House tonight reflects the depth of real concern about the tragic events in Gaza. I join other noble Lords in expressing my feelings of relief that a ceasefire was called at the weekend. However, as several noble Lords have said, it is a very fragile ceasefire with both sides claiming victories. We all want to see a lasting solution and a permanent peace.

The terrible nature of this conflict has been made all the more tragic by the enormity of the humanitarian crisis associated with it. More than 80 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza rely on humanitarian assistance. This is unsurprising when the number of households earning less than $1.20 per person per day has increased from 55 to 70 per cent. As the report The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion states:

"In the last 6 months, the majority of private businesses have shut down and 95% of Gaza's industrial operations are suspended".

This is an impossible situation. The head of UNRWA has declared:

"Hungry, unhealthy, angry communities do not make good partners for peace".

Like other noble Lords, I look forward to hearing the Minister tell the House what the Government are doing to step up humanitarian relief to Gaza. I hope that he will be able to provide fuller and happier information in the debate in this House next week.