The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions held an extraordinary virtual meeting on 5 February 2024, against the backdrop of the protracted conflict in Gaza. The meeting, chaired by the President of the Committee, Mr. Hubert Julien-Laferrière of France, brought together parliamentarians from the Middle East and around the world, including representatives from the Israeli Knesset and the Palestinian National Council. IPU President, Tulia Ackson, and IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong, also attended.
The Committee reiterated the IPU’s appeal for immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip. It appealed to IPU Member Parliaments to work with their governments and other entities to that end. The Committee called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and implored the global parliamentary community to concentrate its efforts on stopping further bloodshed. The Committee also agreed that it was imperative to receive assurances on the release of all remaining Israeli hostages.
The IPU Committee heard from a representative of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on recent developments, including the Agency’s response to the allegations against some of its staff and the investigation under way by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The Committee stressed the importance of a comprehensive investigation into the allegations, whilst recognizing that UNRWA must be able to continue to deliver critical aid to the millions of Palestinians who depend on it. Committee Members affirmed their desire to visit the region in the near future to assess the situation on the ground and to see how they can contribute to peace-building efforts. The Committee received assurances from both the Israeli and the Palestinian representatives that such a mission would be welcome.
The Committee stressed the importance of dialogue as a tool for peace-building and thanked the representatives of the Knesset and the Palestinian National Council who had attended the meeting.
The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions was founded in 1987 as a space for dialogue between parliamentarians in the region. The Committee is made up of 12 members with a special interest in or expertise in the Middle East, elected by the IPU Governing Council for four years. Israel and Palestine are ex-officio members of the Committee.