Like many MPs, I have been receiving a high volume of emails from constituents about Palestine. Below is the most response I have been sending, which outlines some of the actions I have taken.

I am writing to you as you have contacted me regarding recent events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I have received thousands of emails from constituents regarding this issue and it is clearly something that many in our community care deeply about. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for contacting me and making your views heard.  

Innocent civilians in Gaza, half of whom are children, must not be made to pay the price for Hamas’ crimes on 7th October. I am gravely concerned that the Israeli government’s response to these appalling attacks violates international law. People are starving, they have been displaced from their homes, and hospitals are at breaking point, with many people unable to access the treatment they need. I have written to the Foreign Secretary regarding the need to protect Gaza’s hospitals and medical infrastructure, urging him to use all avenues at his disposal to do so. 

The UK government cannot sit by and watch this dire crisis unfold. I called for a ceasefire in my first public statement on this conflict on 12th October, and I have been consistently calling for a ceasefire ever since, both in Parliament and in public. I voted to call for a ceasefire in November 2023 and on Wednesday 21st February I had hoped to be able to vote to call for an immediate ceasefire once again. I supported the SNP motion and would have voted for it if a vote had been called, but instead Parliament descended into shambles.

The International Court of Justice has now ruled that there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza and, as I said after it was announced, this is a historic ruling, the seriousness of which cannot be overstated. Our government must not be complicit and must apply all possible diplomatic pressure to end the massacre.  

I have been horrified by Israeli leaders’ threats regarding Rafah and have publicly stated that the UK must do all it can to prevent a military assault there. On 30th April, I once again reiterated my call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Unfortunately, my calls were ignored and Israel has now begun the Rafah offensive it has been threatening and so I again called on the government to stop enabling Israel’s war crimes in Gaza in Parliament on 7th May. I also spoke at the emergency demo which took place outside Downing Street making it clear that we must not stand by and watch genocide happening in real time, and urged people to continue protesting and putting pressure on their representatives. 

On aid, and specifically the suspension of funding to UNRWA, I am glad that the Colonna report has found that the claims against UNWRA were unsubstantiated, although I understand that one investigation remains ongoing. However, it has long been my view that UNWRA’s funding should be reinstated. UNWRA is the largest aid organisation in Gaza and it is vital that aid is provided immediately and continues to be provided on the ground. I have previously submitted a written parliamentary question to the FCDO, asking the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, if he will take steps to increase UK aid to Gaza. I also signed an open letter from 50 parliamentarians calling on the Foreign Secretary to resume UNWRA’s funding without delay. 

In Occupied East Jerusalem, I understand concerns regarding forcible evictions and demolition of homes, and have signed an open letter to the Foreign Secretary demanding that the government take action to protect Palestinians from this. I visited Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan on a delegation to Palestine in 2022. 

I have also been contacted by many constituents asking for a Palestinian Visa Scheme, similar to the scheme created for Ukrainians after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is something that I wholeheartedly support, and in December 2023 I signed an EDM calling on the government to create such a scheme. I also attended the Westminster Hall debate on the Gaza Families Reunited petition where I emphasised that there is no safe and legal route for Palestinians to come to the UK and expressed disappointment that the Minister would not listen to calls from all MPs present in the debate to create a visa scheme. I also noted that current visa rules exclude close relatives such as siblings, parents or adult children and do not take into account that these may be the only surviving relatives of people with families in the UK. You can read the full text of the debate here. The UK must open new free of charge visa routes for Palestinians as it rightly did in response to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. I recently raised this again and called out the government for not implementing any safe routes for refugees fleeing Gaza.

On arms exports, the UK Government has authorised hundreds of millions of pounds worth of arms sales to Israel for many years. I believe that the UK Government must end arms sales to Israel as part of efforts to end Israel’s militarised repression of Palestinians, violations of international law, and the illegal occupation of Palestine. Otherwise, it is aiding and abetting war crimes. I previously called for the UK to stop arms sales to Israel in 2021 and most recently I repeated the need for an immediate arms embargo following the brutal attack on Rafah.

I signed Early Day Motion 177 to demand that the government suspend arms sales of UK made military and technology equipment being used in Israel and an open letter drafted by Zarah Sultana to both the Foreign Secretary and the Business Secretary, urging them to immediately suspend export licences for arms transfers to Israel. . I also spoke in a Westminster Hall Debate on 12th December where I reiterated calls for a ceasefire and an end to arms sales to the IDF. I took part in the debate on 21st February, where I highlighted the ICJ ruling that there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza, and called for the government to stop arms sales to Israel, back an immediate ceasefire, and increase aid, while continuing to call on Hamas to release all hostages.  I have further signed EDM 377, recognising the ICJ’s recent judgement, calling on the UK government to support the ICJ’s provisional measures, in part by stopping the sale of arms to Israel. In the wake of the ICC prosecutor applying for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three senior Hamas leaders, I once again made the case for an arms embargo against Israel. I welcome these applications and belief the UK’s government should support them.

Please be assured that I will continue to make these demands at every opportunity. An immediate and permanent ceasefire is the only way to prevent further loss of life and humanitarian crisis. I have been vocal in expressing the importance for all nations to recognise the state of Palestine and will continue to do so.