In a question raising concern about the Hamas terror organisations renewed construction of cross-border attack tunnels, the Mid Dorset and North Poole MP asked: “what recent reports he has received on renewed construction by Hamas of cross-border tunnels into Israel”.
Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood MP said that the Government was “deeply concerned” about Hamas’s rearmament efforts. He responded stating: “We are aware of reports of Hamas rebuilding tunnels and we remain deeply concerned by Hamas’ attempts to rearm and rebuild infrastructure, including the tunnel network in Gaza”.
The Middle East Minister underlined: “Any Hamas rearmament undermines efforts to improve the situation in Gaza and harms prospects for peace and stability in the Middle East”.
In an additional question to the Foreign Secretary, he asked about “what steps he is taking to encourage the resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians”.
Mr Ellwood in his response reiterated the UK Government’s support for the two-state solution, stating that it believes it to be “in the firm interests of both Israel and the Palestinians”.
He continued: “We are working through international organisations, including the UN and EU, to encourage both sides to take steps that rebuild trust – crucial for negotiations to succeed. Arab states also have a key role in the peace process and we are discussing with them ways we can move the situation forward. And we are in contact with the French about their initiative, launched in January, aimed at securing progress in the situation”.
In a separate question to the International Trade Secretary, Mr Tomlinson asked: “what the current value is of UK-Israel bilateral trade; and what steps he plans to take to retain and strengthen the UK’s trade relationship with Israel following the UK leaving the EU”.
International Trade Minister Mark Garnier responded, stating: “Israel is an important trade partner for the UK. Bilateral trade in goods and services between the UK and Israel was £3.9 billion in 2015″.
He added: “With strong cooperation across multiple sectors the Department for International Trade is actively engaged in promotion activities to build UK exports across a range of sectors”.
He underlined: “We will of course be making sustained efforts to retain and strengthen further these strong trade links with Israel when the UK leaves the EU”.