The past few weeks have been an unimaginable nightmare for innocent Palestinians. The huge number of innocent people killed, which includes thousands of women and children, is shocking and intolerable.
I have already spoken out and will continue to speak out. In Parliament, I demanded the Government step up efforts to achieve the international co-operation necessary for a sustained route to peace. I called for the cycle of military action, rockets, bombs and violence to stop. I said that violence will not deliver long term justice for the Palestinian people nor long term security for the Israeli people.
You can view my full speech on my website here:
When there was a vote in Parliament on the situation in Gaza, I voted for the international community to mobilise the humanitarian response needed to save as many lives as possible.
I voted for a cessation of fighting as soon as possible.
I voted for a credible, diplomatic and political process that delivers the lasting peace of a two-state solution.
I voted for international humanitarian law to be upheld and for the International Criminal Court to address the conduct of all parties in Gaza.
I voted for a Palestinian State side by side with the State of Israel.
I welcomed the humanitarian pause which, as you will know, sadly ended last week. The pause brought much-needed relief to Israel and Gaza and I pay tribute to the work of Qatar, Egypt, the United States and the Red Cross in negotiating it. The respite in hostilities did allow for the freeing of some of the hostages from Israel and other nations, and for the release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
The conflict has now reached another phase, and I am deeply worried that many more innocent lives will be lost if the international community does not come together to act now.
I strongly urge the UK Government to push for an enduring cessation of hostilities, to secure the release of remaining hostages, to deliver more aid to ease this humanitarian catastrophe and, crucially, to provide a steppingstone towards a lasting political solution.
Israel must not besiege or blockade Gaza. It must comply with international law and protect innocent lives and civilian infrastructure.
The international community must do more without delay to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in front of us as we simultaneously work towards a better future.
In Gaza, it is winter, nearly 2 million people are displaced; many are in tents or in the open air. Shelters are severely overcrowded, dysentery is spreading, and the risk of cholera is now significant. There must be a serious plan to deal with sewage and to distribute medicine and vaccines. I have called for and will continue to call for the UK to appoint a humanitarian co-ordinator to get the trucks moving more quickly to get aid and fuel into Gaza.
To build a lasting peace, we must assure a generation of Palestinians that there is hope: that they, their children and their grandchildren can expect the security and opportunity that is their right, with a plan for children both to prevent their deaths and to prioritise their lives, and a clear message that there can be no reoccupation or reduction of Gazan territory and that those displaced have the right to return home. Israel must also be assured that Hamas cannot carry out an attack like 7 October ever again.
I have also repeatedly made clear that the injustices of illegal settlement expansion, demolition of Palestinian homes, military courts, and the senseless murder of Palestinians in the West Bank by illegal settlers – are both morally wrong and politically self-defeating. I urge the UK Government to play their part in ending the illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank as well as creating a plan for the reconstruction and renewal of Gaza.
I also recognise that here in our country, the conflict has already had a significant impact – very directly for the British families of those killed, injured, taken hostage on 7 October or killed, injured and terrified in Gaza since. For many others, there is a sense of deep distress, renewed anger at the injustice faced down the years by the Palestinian people, and fear and anger among the Jewish community about their safety and security.
The rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks in our communities should be a wake-up call to us all to look for ways to bring people together rather than to push each other away. Now, more than ever, we need to reach for understanding in our own communities to find where we can agree—or, at least, where we do not disagree. We must not allow these tragic events to divide us.
I am grateful to every constituent who has taken the time to contact me or speak to me about the horrendous situation in Gaza. Whilst, like you, I have spent a lot of time reading and watching coverage of this crisis in recent weeks, it has been helpful for me, as your representative in Parliament, to hear from so many people in Harrow about what you feel the international community should do to find a solution to end the bloodshed.
I join all those who call on the UK Government to step up efforts to achieve prolonged international co-operation and a sustained political roadmap to peace.