[Ann Winterton in the Chair] — Palestinian Territories (Economic Aid)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 27th January 2009.

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Photo of Martin Linton Martin Linton Labour, Battersea 9:30 am, 27th January 2009

I do not usually have much luck in House of Commons ballots, but this debate could not have come at a better time. The war has just ended, and we are discovering its true horrors—white phosphorus, bereaved parents and injured children—as we contemplate the destruction not only of many homes but of much of the infrastructure of Gaza. The international community and Gazans themselves face not just a humanitarian crisis but the task, effectively, of rebuilding Gaza.

It is exactly a month today since the war started. What has been remarkable about the past month is not just the scale and spontaneity of the worldwide protests, which have been far greater than anything that we have seen before—some of us were involved in the issue at the time of the Lebanon crisis, and the situation has far outstripped even that—but the readiness of people around the world to help the Palestinians. For example, last week the Muslim community in Blackburn raised £150,000 for a Palestinian charity in just one week. Last night, Channels 4 and 5 and ITV screened the Gaza crisis appeal. We do not yet know how much it has raised—perhaps some people do. To my mind, it is unforgivable that the BBC and Sky refused to screen it.