House of Lords written question – answered on 4th July 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Tonge Baroness Tonge Independent Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what actions they are considering to assist in bringing an end to the Gaza blockade, in line with their commitment to human rights and international law.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

In close co-ordination with our European Union (EU) partners and the office of the quartet representative, the UK regularly makes representations at both ministerial and official level to the Government of Israel on the urgent need to ease restrictions on Gaza.

We are clear that Israeli restrictions on movements of goods and people do serious damage to the economy and living standards of ordinary people in Gaza. The current situation fosters radicalisation and empowers Hamas. An improved economy is not only essential for the people of Gaza, but firmly in Israel's security interests.

The Secretary of State for International Development, my right honourable friend, Mr Mitchell, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend Mr Burt discussed these issues during their respective visits to the region in December 2011 and January 2012. Mr Burt subsequently raised this issue with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon. Our ambassador to Tel Aviv also raised the issue with Prime Minister Netanyahu's Chief Negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, and the Israeli Co-ordinator of Government Activity in the Territories, General Dangot, in March.

We continue to discuss this issue with EU, other international counterparts and humanitarian organisations. EU Foreign Ministers issued conclusions from the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 May 2012 stating:

"Fully recognising Israel's legitimate security needs, the EU continues to call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, the situation of which is unsustainable as long as it remains politically separated from the West Bank. Despite limited progress, the EU urges the Government of Israel to take further meaningful and far-reaching steps allowing for the reconstruction and economic recovery of the Gaza Strip, including by allowing trade with the West Bank and Israel".

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