To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what progress his Department has made on steps to ease the blockade of Gaza, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 25 February 2015, Official Report, columns 155-8WH.
We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. Officials from our Embassy and Consulate General regularly raise the need to make progress towards a durable solution for Gaza, and press for practical steps to advance reconstruction and economic development with both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
We have urged the PA to make progress on resuming control in Gaza. We are also urging Egypt to show maximum flexibility in opening the Rafah crossing.
We have welcomed the steps that Israel has taken to ease some restrictions, including extension of the fishing zone to nine nautical miles, extension of agricultural exports beyond the shmita year, increase of water supply and support for energy and desolation projects. We urge Israel to take further action to ease restrictions.
We are concerned about recent reports of diversion of cement entering Gaza through the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM). While we understand Israeli security concerns, new restrictions on the import of cement have resulted in a slowdown in reconstruction activity and will have a significant impact on employment. The Department for International Development support to the Materials Monitoring Unit of the GRM also helps provide monitoring to ensure construction materials are used for civilian purposes.