This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
One year after the end of last November’s Gaza conflict, the Minister for the Middle East Hugh Robertson said:
We welcome the fact that the ceasefire has largely been respected in the past 12 months. This needs to continue: all sides must fully implement their obligations under the agreement. This needs to include a complete end to militant activities, including rocket fire and provocations such as the recent tunnels constructed into Israel.
The Foreign Secretary said a year ago, when welcoming the agreement, that the priority must now be to build on the ceasefire and to address the underlying causes of the conflict, including more open access to and from Gaza for trade as well as humanitarian assistance, and an end to the smuggling of weapons. I regret that this has yet to happen. It is profoundly disappointing that the living conditions for the 1.7 million civilians inside Gaza have, if anything, deteriorated. Severe restrictions on the import and export of goods and passenger traffic are triggering yet higher levels of unemployment and poverty and Gaza is without power for 16 hours a day.
We call on the Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian authorities to work together to ensure that the efforts to shut down smuggling tunnels are accompanied by equally determined efforts to open up legal trade and movement for the people of Gaza. The needs and rights of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza must be protected as must the legitimate security concerns of Israel and Egypt.