Gaza — [Mr Jim Hood in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:43 pm on 25th February 2015.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Party Chair, Co-operative Party 3:43 pm, 25th February 2015

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman, but I will not give way because of the time.

The blockade of Gaza must end with the co-operation of Israel. What recent action has the Minister taken to press the Government of Israel on that critical issue? No one wants to see a repeat of last summer, and clearly a crucial element of preventing another conflict must be for the international community to stop Hamas rebuilding its arsenal and tunnels so that it cannot again fire thousands of rockets into Israel. There can be absolutely no justification for the conduct of Hamas and other organisations that fired rockets into Israel and sought to infiltrate civilian areas. We are unyielding in our condemnation of Hamas both for the indiscriminate killing of Israeli civilians and for the disruptive role it has played when others have tried to secure the two-state solution that we all want.

Ultimately, we have to help the Palestinians and the Israelis to get back to the negotiating table. It is surely the responsibility of all of us in the international community—certainly the UK, but also countries across the international community—to use the leverage that we have to encourage again the conditions so that negotiations can begin on a peaceful, lasting solution.

Such a solution needs to involve the peoples of the occupied territories and of Israel, as well as their leaders. Progress on violence, on respecting human rights and on illegal settlements will be critical to building the conditions for such negotiations to take place.

I come back finally to the urgency of the situation in Gaza. The humanitarian crisis there demands that the international community steps up its efforts to get the construction of homes and access to basic services going again. I look forward to hearing what further role the Minister thinks the UK can play in helping to achieve that.