HL Deb 08 March 2004 vol 658 cc139-40WA
Lord Turnberg

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What encouragement they are giving to the Palestinian Authority to respond to the efforts of the Israeli Government to withdraw settlements from the Gaza strip. [HL1414]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The Government regularly press the Palestinian Authority to take visible steps to degrade terrorist capabilities. I did so in the occupied territories on 21–23 January, and most recently on 6 February our Consul General in Jerusalem spoke to the Palestinian Prime Minister.

Both sides need to implement their obligations under the road map and we expect all parties to respond positively and start implementation without delay. We welcome Prime Minister Sharon's reiteration of Israel's commitment to the road map and his subsequent announcement that he will remove settlements in Gaza. We would warmly welcome a withdrawal of settlers and the Israeli defence force from Gaza to Israel. We hope it will be the first step to a full, negotiated withdrawal from occupied territories and will improve the humanitarian situation on the ground for the Palestinians.