UPDATE: On Wednesday 15th November, I voted in favour of calling for a ceasefire. Bombing hospitals and refugee camps is not self-defence. Neither is depriving two million people of food, water and fuel. We must demand an immediate end to hostilities, unconditional release of all hostages, and the lifting of the siege of Gaza.
Like many MPs, I have been receiving a high volume of emails from constituents about recent events in Israel and Palestine. Below is the response I have been sending, which outlines my position and some of the actions I have taken:
I have been shocked and deeply saddened by what the world has been witnessing in Israel and Gaza. The most devastating among this is the loss of innocent lives, especially young children who should never have to experience this kind of violence. In my first statement, I expressed that there is no justification for the targeting of innocent civilians, whether Israeli or Palestinian. I unequivocally condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas. I stand with Jewish and Israeli communities in mourning the victims of these attacks and urge Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to release all hostages without delay.
Innocent civilians in Gaza, half of whom are children, must not be made to pay the price for Hamas’ crimes. I am gravely concerned that the Israeli government’s response to these appalling attacks violates international law. Civilians are being killed in airstrikes, denied access to food, water, fuel and aid, and over a million civilians in and around Gaza City are being instructed to move to southern Gaza. The UN has said that this could amount to forcible transfer or forcible relocation, which is considered a war crime – please see my further statement linked to this. Hospitals are also at breaking point and many people cannot access the treatment they need. The UK government cannot sit by and watch this dire humanitarian crisis unfold, which is why I raised this in Parliament on Monday 16th October where I called on the Prime Minister to do all he can to convince the Israeli government to end indiscriminate airstrikes, withdraw the relocation order and lift the siege to allow in essential items and amenities.
I have made additional comments on the escalating situation in Gaza here and I’ve co-sponsored a motion calling on the UK government to press for a ceasefire. On Saturday 28th October, I attended the mass march for Palestine in London, again calling for an immediate ceasefire. Additionally, I seconded my colleague Zarah Sultana’s amendment to the King’s Speech, condemning Hamas’ appalling attack and calling for an immediate ceasefire, immediate release of hostages and the upholding of international and humanitarian law. Unfortunately, this amendment was not selected for a vote. During the most recent statement in Parliament on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I highlighted the ever growing humanitarian disaster in Gaza and the staggering death toll, asking the government, how many more Palestinian people must die before they will act and call for a ceasefire. Sadly, the government’s response was to repeat it’s support for a ‘humanitarian pause’ which is not at all sufficient. I assure you that I will keep calling for a ceasefire at every opportunity.
I know that many people will be fearing a rise in hate crime in the UK in light of these events. There can be no place in our city for antisemitism or Islamophobia. My door is open to any constituents who would like to discuss their concerns.
The horrific events of recent weeks underscore the need to work towards a just and lasting peace, which protects the freedom, safety and right to self-determination of both peoples. This necessitates an end to the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. I steadfastly support a negotiated, diplomatic settlement based on two states: a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, alongside a safe and secure Israel.
I assure you that as your member of Parliament I will continue speaking out about this issue, and calling on the government to focus its efforts in the immediate term on de-escalation and ensuring that international law is upheld, and in the long-term on a negotiated, just settlement. If you would like more information on any previous work I have done relating to Israel and Palestine please let me know.