Middle East Peace Process — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:04 pm on 4th May 2011.

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Photo of The Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench 8:04 pm, 4th May 2011

My Lords, today's meeting in Cairo provides some hope of reviving the peace process, but we cannot count on it while Mr Netanyahu is in charge of Israel. Our Prime Minister has described Gaza as a prison camp. Conditions there have deteriorated. Far from withdrawing, Israel has in fact tightened its grip, and IDF restrictions have made life for Palestinians almost intolerable. There are innumerable stories of people unable to get even proper medical help.

One aspect of present policies is the trauma and psychological damage done to young children in the West Bank and Gaza. The poorest Palestinian children include those who have suffered from conflict, street violence and the worst kinds of abuse. One admirable service in Jerusalem is the Spafford Children's Center, which provides counselling and speech therapy to children who would otherwise drop out of the school system. Arts therapy and cultural alternatives to violence have been highly effective in relieving post-traumatic stress disorders. The centre's work now also extends beyond the city and the separation wall through outreach clinics, but it now takes hours for Palestinian health workers and students even to get from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, let alone to obtain visas to train abroad. What are Her Majesty's Government doing to convince Israel that freedom of movement is essential for this kind of work? Are they urging Israel to ease the blockade? Finally, will the EU have to pick up the pieces if Israel suspends payments to the Palestinian Authority?