Occupied Palestinian Territories: Development - 17 March 2016
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for initiating this important and timely debate. Securing a sustainable future for the Occupied Palestinian Territories is essential to establishing peace in the Middle East. The International Development Select Committee’s report on the UK’s development work in the region outlines how we are helping that process. I welcome the committee’s report and the Government’s response. However, while I support the reasons for funding development of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I have concerns regarding how the funding is used. Unsuitable use hampers the economic and political security of the region, making development a counterproductive objective in this case.
It is common knowledge that the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry for Prisoners’ Affairs provides salaries to all families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The Palestinian Government have been accused on a number of occasions of using UK aid to fund these salaries. The Palestinian Government have failed to provide evidence to the contrary and I am very uneasy with the idea that British aid could be used towards encouraging violent crimes. What steps have the Government taken to ensure that British funding is not used in this manner? We need to see this funding as an opportunity. Both the committee’s report and the Government’s response support a two-state solution in the region, leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a sustainable and sovereign Palestinian state.
Overall, I welcome the report in providing a foundation for peace. However, we must remember that:
“Economic progress can never be a substitute for a political settlement”,
and we must ensure that the recommendations put forward are carefully monitored to ensure that they are indeed used for economic purposes and not hijacked for ulterior motives.
The full debate can be read through the following link: