Middle East: UN Security Council

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons am ar 30 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Ceidwadwyr, Wimbledon

What recent steps he has taken through the UN Security Council to support progress towards a sustainable peace in the middle east.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

The UK played a leading role in securing the passage of Security Council resolutions 2728 and 2720, which set out the urgent demand for expanded humanitarian access.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Ceidwadwyr, Wimbledon

The way to a sustainable peace, as my right hon. Friend says, is through humanitarian access. Could he please confirm what the UK Government are doing to ensure the full funding of UNRWA again, and what they will do to stop the Hamas terrorist group affecting the supply of aid to Palestinian citizens?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

My hon. Friend is right about the importance of aid getting in, and UNRWA is a critical organisation in achieving that. He will know that we have had a chance to look at the Colonna report, and I spoke about this matter with the UN Secretary-General yesterday when I was in New York. We are waiting for the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, which we expect to hear about soon, and we will then reach our conclusions on the best way of getting aid into Gaza. My hon. Friend may rest assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure that aid gets in.

Photo of Imran Hussain Imran Hussain Llafur, Bradford East

Next Sunday will mark 100 days since the International Court of Justice warned of a genocide in Gaza, yet the Israeli military continues to ignore the legally binding orders of the world’s highest court, continues to bomb Gaza indiscriminately and continues to block vital humanitarian aid, all while the UK stands by and lets the right-wing Netanyahu Cabinet blatantly undermine the court’s legitimacy.

Can the Minister explain to me just what blatantly disregarding international courts and openly violating UN ceasefire resolutions means for the rules-based order he claims to uphold, because to me, my constituents, the Palestinians and countless persecuted groups across the world, frankly these rules are now not worth the paper they are written on?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

What the hon. Gentleman says—the way he reflects on what the ICJ said—is not accurate. The ICJ called for hostage release, for more aid into Gaza and for Israel not to commit acts that violate the rights of Palestinians. The Government agree with those three points.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

Will the Deputy Foreign Secretary take the message back to his boss that the insertion of British troops on the ground in Gaza will simply play into the hands of those who wish to divert attention further away from the existential conflict between Russia and Ukraine? Does he share my sadness that there is not a single mention of Ukraine in any of the questions on today’s Order Paper?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

My right hon. Friend will know that the Government are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help Ukraine. He will have seen the Prime Minister’s announcement last week on the increase in defence spending, and where that announcement was made.

I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will not draw any conclusions from today’s Order Paper, but note specifically this Government’s driving ambition to ensure that Ukraine is successful in beating back the Russians.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

The creation of a sustainable peace in the middle east will require the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The Deputy Foreign Secretary will know that Prime Minister Netanyahu is now implacably opposed to the creation of such a state, so what will the UK do to oblige Israel to comply with the international peace process? Does he think a sustainable peace is possible so long as Mr Netanyahu remains in power?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

Many voices are heard within Israel, but the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the predominant view of the region, of the United Nations and of the regional powers, the great powers and the British Government is that a two-state solution is required, with both Palestine and Israel living behind secure borders in peace and safety.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

More than 30,000 Palestinians are dead, more than 100 Israeli hostages are still unaccounted for and Gaza is facing famine. The war must end now with an immediate ceasefire. That needs both sides to agree. It was Hamas, not Israel, who rejected the last internationally brokered ceasefire deal. Now a new offer is on the table, and Hamas now have the power to stop the fighting. Does the Minister agree that Hamas should accept this deal and avert a catastrophic continuation of this war?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

Yes. The right hon. Gentleman makes a very good point and, although these negotiations are fluid at the moment, he is right to say that Hamas should accept the deal that has been put on the table.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

The Minister knows that securing a sustainable peace will require a massive aid and rebuilding programme, in which UNRWA will have, and must have, a crucial part to play. Indeed, he has previously acknowledged that UNRWA has a vital role to play in providing aid and services in Gaza. Why, then, having assured this House that he will come to a decision on the future of UNRWA’s funding when he received Catherine Colonna’s interim report, has he sat on that report for 10 days and said absolutely nothing about restoring funding? He now seems to be setting us up for even further delay. It is simply not good enough. Will he now tell us when this Government will make a decision on UNRWA’s funding?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development and Africa)

We have been very clear that we are waiting for not one but two reports. As I say, I discussed this matter yesterday with the UN Secretary-General. We know very well, as the hon. Gentleman does, that the assets UNRWA has in terms of logistics, vehicles, warehouses and so forth, are essential for the supply of humanitarian relief within Gaza. We are considering the matter carefully. He will also know that Britain is not currently in deficit in its funding; we are fully funded at this point for UNRWA. It has also received additional resources, including private resources as well as new Governments coming in to support it. We will consider carefully both those two reports in full and then make a decision, and I will come back to the House to inform it when that decision is reached.