Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories – UK statement [June 2024]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 6 June 2024.

Special sitting on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories. Statement by the UK’s Permanent Representative to the WTO and UN, Simon Manley.

Thank you Chair.

The UK, like others in this room today, wants to bring the Gaza conflict to a sustainable end as quickly as possible. We are shocked by the sheer scale of the loss of lives and livelihoods of both Israelis and Palestinians.

On 7 October, Israel suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. Almost 250 days on and Hamas continues to hold hostages.

In Gaza, the situation is desperate. Palestinian civilians face a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis. We again urge Israel to let humanitarian aid enter Gaza through all relevant crossings, including Rafah.

The UK is grateful to the Director General and the ILO for their vital engagement. In particular, we commend the ILO’s staff who have been working tirelessly to implement the emergency response programme under immensely challenging circumstances. We of course regret that the annual mission could not take place in its usual format.

Both Palestinian and Israeli labour markets have been affected by this crisis. The absence of a functioning labour market in Gaza; rising rates of unemployment; and the effects on vulnerable workers including women and those with disabilities is particularly concerning. This has only been compounded by the destruction of businesses.

If we are to stop the loss of life, and allow the rebuilding of the labour market in both the West Bank and Gaza, the fighting needs to stop now. The fastest way to end the conflict is to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting in Gaza. We must then work together to turn that pause into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.

The UK supports an irreversible two-state solution that guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. The UK has offered support to the Palestinian Authority to implement much-needed reforms, and we encourage labour and social policy reforms to be resumed at the appropriate time. An effective PA is vital for lasting peace and progress towards a two-state solution.

Just as the PA must act, so must Israel. This means releasing frozen funds, halting settlement expansion, and holding to account those responsible for extremist settler violence.

The UK has already moved to ban those responsible for violence in the West Bank from entering the UK, and announced new sanctions designations against four extremist Israeli settlers.

So, in closing, let us join together today to renew our collective commitment to end the suffering and reach a long-term solution to this crisis. It is time for it to end.

Thank you, Chair.