My Lords, after the tragic death of eight Turkish humanitarian workers in 2010 our Prime Minister David Cameron said in Ankara that the situation in Gaza has to change and that humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. He further commented that Gaza must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. Yet nearly two years later, there still remains crude restrictions to the flow of humanitarian goods and people.
Gaza experiences chronic shortages and innocent women and children are suffering. For example, Al-Shifa hospital lacks basic medicines and essentials such as baby milk. Last month, the United Nations submitted its annual report on the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. The report describes the continuing desperation, including chronic food insecurity, isolation, and failing health and education services, all directly linked to the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel. The report states that the blockade amounts to collective punishment of the population and affects every aspect of life in the Gaza strip.
The blockade has not prevented attacks against Israel; its only success is in creating a stark reminder of the impotence of the international community. It is time for the UK to take a lead in developing a clear and open strategy for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. We cannot continue to believe ourselves to be a just and moral actor in the international arena until we play a role in helping to arrive at a settlement to the Palestinian issues. The rival factions Hamas and Fatah have now agreed to form a new unity government in West Bank and Gaza which I believe will help to achieve a peaceful settlement.
Israel is a mighty military power, but it must now be magnanimous and arrive at a two-state solution whereby it has a guarantee of security and nationhood, but in return it must ensure that Arabs are fairly treated and have full independence.