The current crisis in Palestine and Israel and the indiscriminate loss of life is completely unacceptable. The continued bloodshed and violence in the Middle East has rightfully angered many of my constituents and the international community.
I was cautiously optimistic about the recent peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis under John Kerry’s encouragement. Whilst no bold assurances were made, it was seen as a step in the right direction with both parties coming to the negotiation table.
Not many would have predicted that only a few months later, innocent Gazans would again be under attack. With reports of 120 Palestinians killed already, this new wave of aerial bombardment is worryingly similar to the first days of Operation Caste Lead, in which 1,350 Palestinians were killed in 22 days.
The international community cannot sit back and watch another Caste Lead. We cannot maintain a silence on this bloodshed nor can we accept the status quo of two million people under siege.
We will only move to a meaningful peace process, when every life is treated as equal. Every Palestinian life treated as equal to every Israeli life.
When the Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and brutally and wrongfully killed, the Government called members to the House of Commons for an urgent statement. Those responsible for this unprovoked crime should be held to account and punished.
The Israeli authorities have since continuously and indiscriminately bombarded the Gaza Strip with war planes, including specially adapted deadly F16s, killing at least 120 people with the death toll still climbing.
The Government must make an equally robust statement, demand an immediate halt to the violence and an end to the continued siege on Gaza – allowing the free flow of medicine, equipment and supplies.
No state can be seen as being above international law. While words have meaning, actions have effect. What we need is not just a continued commitment to a peace process, we’ve heard these words too many times and we’ve seen too many false dawns.
The ongoing growth of illegal settlements in the West Bank as well as the housing demolitions and restriction of movement must come to an immediate halt.
Every time another crisis unfolds that little light of hope gets even smaller. All of us who believe in equality, fairness and justice irrespective of colour, nationality or faith can’t accept this as a forgotten conflict, too complicated and too difficult to solve.
I have written to the Foreign Secretary William Hague to ask that he use all influence possible to put an end to the violence, ensure that human rights are upheld and pursue an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza.
In the letter I have urged him to come to the House of Commons and make a statement on what actions he has taken so far in promoting a ceasefire, and what steps he will take if the reported invasion go ahead and what he will do to seek lasting peace.
As well as a response to the current attacks, I have asked the Foreign Secretary to support full enhanced status for Palestine at the UN, including its application to the International Criminal Court.
While I wait a response, I would urge all to continue the ongoing humanitarian support through established charities.
As an active member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, I have been campaigning for a number of years now for the Palestinian people and their right to an independent and viable Palestinian State, through the implementation of international law and respect for their human rights. This is one of the reasons why one of the very first Early Day Motions I signed and co-sponsored decried Israel’s raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. You can access that EDM and others on Universal Jurisdiction and UN recognition of Palestinian Statehood, as well as some of the more recent question times and debates I have raised on Palestine, by using the links below: