"The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): The humanitarian situation in Gaza is extremely serious and will worsen now that the winter rains have started. Nearly a year after the conflict, 75 per cent. of Gazans still rely on some form of food aid, more than 60 per cent. do not have daily access to drinking water and 10 per cent. have no access to mains electricity. The United Kingdom continues to press Israel for full access to humanitarian aid in line with internationally accepted humanitarian principles.
Mr. Swire: What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the implications of the 18 million litres of raw and untreated sewage being discharged into the sea off Gaza for the population of Gaza and the surrounding environment?
Mr. Alexander: That is but one of the health consequences of the conditions currently being visited on the people of Gaza. As I said, we have made clear representations to the Israeli Government. Only yesterday, I spoke to Defence Minister Ehud Barak and pressed him for wider access to a range of humanitarian goods. The reconstruction effort that we all wanted to see after Operation Cast Lead has not been possible because of the constraints on access that continue to affect the community. The hon. Gentleman's point is well taken, and I can assure him that we take many opportunities to press the Israelis to ensure that the necessary reconstruction efforts are now made.
Mr. Carmichael: The Secretary of State will doubtless be aware that those seeking anything other than the most basic medical treatment in Gaza are required to travel abroad. However, in the period ending in June, no fewer than 40 per cent. of applications for travel permits for health care were refused by the Israeli Government. What pressure can he bring to bear to ensure that that situation improves?
Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware that 8,000 children in Gaza are without school desks, and will he facilitate the importation of the metal components necessary to complete the construction of the desks?
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): Some 50,000 homes are estimated to have been destroyed during the Israeli attacks on Gaza, but cement, panes of glass and steel girders are still not getting in to repair them. I appreciate what my right hon. Friend says about his meetings with Mr. Barak, but if the Israelis are not listening, what are we going to do about it?
Mr. Alexander: I have sympathy with my hon. Friend, who has great knowledge of the region and the challenges facing it. In some ways, the difficulty is exemplified by the issue of cement. John Ging told me that Hamas is building a watchtower opposite the Israeli watchtower at the crossings using cement that presumably has been smuggled in through the tunnels from Egypt. However, at the same time, the Israelis are denying the cement to rebuild the schools that will give the young people of Gaza exactly the opportunities that hon. Members on both sides of the House would want them to enjoy. That is why we are continuing to press the Israelis. However, with humility we recognise that that is not a task for the United Kingdom alone. The European Union and the United State have key jobs, which is why we continue to work in international forums to press the case for those humanitarian supplies to be allowed in for reconstruction to take place.
Mr. Jim Devine (Livingston) (Lab): Is it not time that the international community got together and took sanctions against Israel for its behaviour?
I think that this short debate reminds us of the incessant BBC coverage of the unremitting poverty of the population of Gaza and the vile way that Israel treats the Palestinians on a daily basis.
So I was interested to read this article in the Wall street Journal by Tom Gross who found a West Bank (not Gaza) that never gets reported, although I believe you will find such reporting on this blog previously .... :
"It is difficult to turn on a TV or radio or pick up a newspaper these days, without finding some pundit or other deploring the dismal prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace or the dreadful living conditions of the Palestinians. Even supposedly neutral news reporters regularly repeat this sad tale. "Very little is changing for the Palestinian people on the ground," I heard BBC World Service Cairo correspondent Christian Fraser tell listeners three times in a 45 minute period the other evening.Yes but money is not important what about freedom? The Palestinians in Gaza are kept behind "the security wall" and have to pass through Israeli checkpoints to get anywhere? Really? :
In fact nothing could be further from the truth. I had spent that day in the West Bank's largest city, Nablus. The city is bursting with energy, life and signs of prosperity, in a way I have not previously seen in many years of covering the region.
As I sat in the plush office of Ahmad Aweidah, the suave British-educated banker who heads the Palestinian Securities Exchange, he told me that the Nablus stock market was the second best-performing in the world so far in 2009, after Shanghai. (Aweidah's office looks directly across from the palatial residence of Palestinian billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest man in the West Bank.)
Later I met Bashir al-Shakah, director of Nablus's gleaming new cinema, where four of the latest Hollywood hits were playing that day. Most movies were sold out, he noted, proudly adding that the venue had already hosted a film festival since it opened in June.
Wandering around downtown Nablus the shops and restaurants I saw were full. There were plenty of expensive cars on the streets. Indeed I counted considerably more BMWs and Mercedes than I've seen, for example, in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv."
"perhaps most importantly of all, we had driven from Jerusalem to Nablus without going through any Israeli checkpoints. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has removed them all since the Israeli security services (with the encouragement and support of President George W. Bush) were allowed, over recent years, to crush the intifada, restore security to the West Bank and set up the conditions for the economic boom that is now occurring. (There was one border post on the return leg of the journey, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but the young female guard just waved me and the two Palestinians I was traveling with, through.)"Maybe the wealth described is only in Nablus, but what about Hebron which is often described by the BBC?
"The shops and restaurants were also full when I visited Hebron recently, and I was surprised to see villas comparable in size to those on the Cote d'Azur or Bel Air had sprung up on the hills around the city."OK, Nablus and Hebron but Ramallah is as we are told by the BBC a hell hole of deprivation and despair, really?
"Life is even better in Ramallah, where it is difficult to get a table in a good restaurant. New apartment buildings, banks, brokerage firms, luxury car dealerships and health clubs are to be seen."
Do read the rest of the WSJ article and ask yourself why this sort on good news about life for Palestinians is never reported by the BBC, one might wonder if the BBC had an agenda...
Tom Gross's article then has a passage that is key:
"In Gaza too, the shops and markets are crammed with food and goods. But while photos from last Friday's Palestine Today newspaper, for example, depict sumptuous Eid celebrations, these are not the pictures you are ever likely to see on the BBC or Le Monde or the New York Times. No, Gaza is not like a "concentration camp," nor is the "humanitarian crisis in Gaza is on the scale of Darfur," as British journalist Lauren Booth (who is also Tony Blair's sister-in-law) has said.
In June, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him why he had turned down Ehud Olmert's offer last year to create a Palestinian state on 97% of the West Bank (with 3% of pre-1967 Israeli land being added to make up the shortfall). "In the West Bank we have a good reality," Abbas told Diehl. "The people are living a normal life," he added in a rare moment of candor to a Western journalist.
Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren't ready to do so by themselves yet. "
The BBC are 'all Hamas now' and so the success of Palestinians in the West Bank and even Gaza must be hushed up, Israel is evil and to blame and the BBC will not rest until Israel has gone.