DFID and Palestine

Debate tabled by Iain Wright MP on 4th May 2016

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab)

7. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department’s spending in the Palestinian territories in achieving its aims. [904854]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr Desmond Swayne)

We are strengthening Palestinian institutions and supporting economic development. Last year, we supported 60,000 children in school and created thousands of jobs. Results are monitored quarterly.

Ian Austin

Just 0.2%—2 pence in every £10—of the £72 million the Department spends in the Palestinian territories goes to co-existence projects bringing Palestinians and Israelis together through the Conflict, Security and Stability fund. Why will the Department not support Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow—MEET—which does brilliant work with Israeli and Palestinian students, or, for example, Save a Child’s Heart? Co-existence and humanitarian work are the two pillars on which peace and a two-state solution will be built.

Mr Swayne

We spent £349 million between 2011 and 2015, and last year we spent £72 million. There is, of course, a difficulty when managing any number of very small projects and initiatives. However, I appreciate the importance the hon. Gentleman draws to this particular need, and I am happy to accommodate him and discuss it with him.

Sir Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) (Con)

May I urge my right hon. Friend to not just maintain our spending on the Palestinian Authority but even increase it? Do we not have an obligation to make a stand against the moral outrage of the continuing annexation, by the Israelis, of Palestinian land?

Mr Swayne

The main effort of our interventions in the Palestinian territories remains to deliver an independent and stable Palestinian state. I cannot give any indication of finance now; an announcement will be made in due course.