I am deeply concerned at the situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinians are experiencing. I’ve worked closely with organisations such as Medical Aid for Palestinians and others who continue to highlight issues arising from the ongoing blockade of Gaza, including the need for humanitarian aid and access to healthcare. Indeed, I went to visit Palestine with MAP last year and saw first-hand the consequences of the limitations on healthcare for Palestinians. You can see a speech I gave on the humanitarian situation in Gaza here.
There must be an end to the blockade of Gaza. The blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services including healthcare. Indeed, Israeli restrictions severely restrict the movement of medical professionals and patients in Gaza, hampering the provision of quality health services. These restrictions should be lifted.
The UK Government should continue to raise issues relating to medical facilities and personnel with the Israeli authorities, stressing the need for safe and unimpeded passage for medical personnel.
I also deplore the violence that we have seen on the Gaza border since March 2018, which unfortunately continues. I backed calls for an independent investigation into the events on the Gaza border last year and I welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to dispatch a commission of inquiry. I know that the commission of inquiry is expected to publish its findings during the next session of the Human Rights Council, which starts shortly. It has been confirmed that the Human Rights Council will hold a general debate on human rights in the Palestinian territories on 18 March 2019.
Human rights should be at the heart of UK foreign policy. Without an insistence on basic protections for the rights of Palestinians, we will never make the progress we all want to see towards a long term, sustainable peace in the Middle East. I will continue to press the Government on the actions it is taking on these issues and follow any developments closely.