Gaza: Humanitarian Aid and Children — [Valerie Vaz in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 2:29 pm ar 8 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 2:29, 8 Chwefror 2024

I am very grateful for those questions. We have made these specific points to our Israeli counter- parts. We believe that there are 10 steps that they should be taking to increase the flow of aid. Primarily, of course, we need a humanitarian pause to allow humanitarian agencies and Gazans to operate more safely right across Gaza. We need to ensure effective systems to guarantee the safety of aid convoys, humanitarian operations and IDP returns and facilitate access. We need to ensure that the UN has the people, the vehicles, the equipment and the fuel to distribute aid safely across Gaza once it is inside Gaza. That includes the issuing of visas.

We need to extend the opening hours and the capacity of the Nitzana screening facility and Kerem Shalom checkpoint so that more trucks, aid and fuel can enter Gaza. It needs to be open seven days a week, not just five. We need to remove restrictions in order to ensure greater consistency on the goods allowed in, as the hon. Lady referred to. We need unencumbered access to aid coming in from Jordan. The Israelis need to open Ashdod port as a route for aid to reach Gaza. The Israelis need to open the Erez crossing to allow direct access to north Gaza. And, of course, there needs to be a restitution of water, fuel and electricity connections. We continue to make these points to our Israeli interlocutors.

The Foreign Secretary also announced work with Qatar to get more aid into Gaza. Our joint consignment containing 17 tonnes of family-size tents was flown in last Thursday. Last month, RFA Lyme Bay delivered 87 tonnes of aid into Port Said. Crucially, we are supporting the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver a new humanitarian land corridor from Jordan into Gaza, which has already delivered more than 1,000 tonnes of aid. It is vital that we sustain this support and go further.

We are clear that Israel must take steps, working with other partners including the UN and Egypt, to significantly increase the flow of aid, including by allowing prolonged humanitarian pauses, opening more routes into Gaza and restoring and sustaining water, fuel and electricity. Above all, the best way to address the humanitarian situation is by bringing an end to the fighting as soon as possible, which is exactly the point that right hon. and hon. Members have made this afternoon.

The Foreign Secretary was in the region last week to urge de-escalation and build towards a sustainable and permanent ceasefire without a return to the fighting. We have identified five steps to allow that to happen—first, the release of all Israeli hostages; secondly, the formation of a new Palestinian Government for the west bank and Gaza, accompanied by an international support package; thirdly, removing Hamas’s capacity to launch attacks against Israel; fourthly, Hamas no longer being in charge of Gaza; and fifthly, a political horizon that provides a credible and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution. We will continue to do all we can diplomatically to push this agenda forward in order to save lives, quite frankly.