London, 15 Jumadil Awwal 1436/6 March 2015 (MINA) – British lawmakers are calling on the government to push Israel for access into Gaza at the Erez crossing in a bid to assess the situation and see how its funds are being spent.
The Israeli controlled crossing operates as a pedestrian and cargo terminal on the border with the northern end of the Gaza strip. The last time a British MP delegation was granted access to Gaza by Israel was back in 2009, Al-Arabiya quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Now politicians from both houses of Britain’s parliament have passed a motion for debate by MPs calling for the British Government to “do everything in its power to persuade the Israeli authorities to permit parliamentary access into Gaza to assess the situation, the needs of the population and how British funds are being spent.”
In a meeting held in Parliament on March 4, hosted by Caabu (which aims to raise awareness of conflict resolution in the Arab world) and Medical Aid for Palestinians, Gavin Shuker MP, Andy Love MP, Baroness Morris and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi all endorsed the vital need to visit Palestine especially Gaza.
Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu said: “As major donors to the humanitarian effort in Gaza and as key trade partners to Israel, MPs and MEPs for the European states have an obligation to their electorates, and the UK taxpayer more generally, to push for accountability and oversight of aid projects. This requires access to Gaza.”
On Feb. 25, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for MENA, Tobias Ellwood and Richard Burden MP called for Israel to allow Parliamentarians to access Gaza to enable an informed discussion to take place in the UK on Gaza and to allow UK Parliamentarians to review UK funded projects there.
But so far no such access has been granted. On Wednesday Gavin Shuker MP said: “There is no substitute to visiting and meeting with ordinary people”
Israel created its blockade of Gaza by land, air and sea in 2007, and maintains that the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
So far the blockade has been used to prevent the import of various supplies ranging from light bulbs and halva, to donkeys and cows. At sea a number of attempts to run convoys were thwarted when supply ships were boarded by armed Israeli forces.
Baroness Morris, the President of MAP and the Government’s Trade Envoy to Palestine said on Wednesday: “The people in Gaza are cut off and isolated. A change in attitudes of UK politicians depends on visits.”
And Tony Laurance, CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians added: “The UK is a significant donor to the planned reconstruction of Gaza and their Parliamentarians must see the situation for themselves in respect to the needs of the population and how British funds are being spent.” (T/P011/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)