Over the past weeks I have received hundreds of emails from constituents about the horror unfolding in Gaza, and across Israel the West Bank and East Jerusalem. I have listened to people locally during school visits, community events and meetings with religious leaders including with leaders from Hounslow’s mosques.
From the many conversations I’ve had I know that everyone shares my abhorrence at the violence that we have seen over the recent weeks. I hope that I can lay out my wider views on this issue, the actions I have taken as your MP and why. Having spent a lot of time reflecting on the situation since October 7th, met many colleagues and those involved, including the Palestinian representative in the UK, I looked carefully at the tabled amendments to the Kings Speech and to the debate on the amendments.
On Wednesday 15th November I voted for Amendment R to the King’s Speech as it most closely reflected my views and my thinking, and how best I believe we should approach the horrific conflict that we have seen. I am disappointed that the Government MPs voted against this amendment, and indeed that the Government Minister, Chris Philps, in his winding-up speech omitted to mention the loss of life of well over 10,000 Gazan civilians.
The amendment I voted for;
- Affirmed that all human life is equal, condemned the killing of innocent civilians and children since October 7th and called for an end to the violence
- Unequivocally condemned the horrific terrorist attack and murder of civilians by Hamas and called for the immediate release of all hostages
- Reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the rules-based international order, international humanitarian law and the jurisdiction of the ICC to address the conduct of all parties in Gaza and Hamas’s attacks in Israel
- Called for Israel to follow International Law; to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza
- Called on Israel to guarantee that Gazans forced to flee during this conflict can return to their homes
- Requested the Government continue to work with the international community to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict in the region
- Sought an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the occupied West Bank
- Sought an enduring cessation of violence as soon as possible and a credible, diplomatic and political process in order to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.
The full text can be seen on page 15 of the Order Paper below.
I share the overwhelming concern of constituents who have written to me in the last week, that the violence must stop. Most have asked me to call for a ceasefire, however the challenges of achieving a formal ceasefire are significant and I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach. Both parties to the conflict have to agree to, and stick to, a ceasefire, which both Israel or Hamas have made clear they are not prepared to do. I worry that a ceasefire at this moment in time without the release of hostages by Hamas risks freezing the conflict in its current state, which would be disastrous for both Israelis and Palestinian civilians.
Hamas cannot be allowed to control Gaza, nor can there be a reoccupation of Gaza by Israel. I therefore support Labour’s calls for the immediate end to hostilities right now and for long enough to get adequate humanitarian aid in, and in order to start the work towards a lasting and sustainable peace.
Over the recent weeks I have also made sure, as your MP, to raise important issues relating to Gaza in Parliament on behalf of people locally. Last week I called on the Government to oppose the occupation of Gaza by Israeli Forces, as Israel has threatened to do. There cannot be a reoccupation and I will continue to stand up against this. I’ve put a link to my question below,
As you might have seen I also wrote to the) Foreign Secretary about the need to urgently increase UK aid to Gaza. The scenes from hospitals have been heart-breaking and devastating to witness, particularly seeing the injured and sick children. With more than 1.5 million people displaced we need to see significantly more aid reach Gaza, including food, fuel and much needed medical supplies. I have also been opposed to the increased violence against Palestinians that we have witnessed in the occupied West Bank. This violence from settlers is wrong and I have condemned the Netanyahu Government for the support it has given to this violence.
Earlier this year in Parliament, before the current hostilities, I condemned violence across Gaza and the West Bank and called on the UK Government to act to ensure that acts of violence against civilians are investigated in full. The UK Government also needs to do more to ensure that we can have a viable two state solution which must include an independent Palestinian state. This is something I have long called for and the UK Government needs to restart international efforts to ensure a long-term peace in the region. I will continue to campaign for much longer pauses in the fighting which I hope will lead to a cessation of the hostilities and an end to the horrific conflict that we have seen. The hostages taken by Hamas must be released and Israel must not target civilians or bomb civilian infrastructure.
The events in Gaza and the ongoing attacks on civilians, the disproportionality of attacks, and the impact particularly on children, have been horrific to witness. I want to assure you that as your MP I will continue to campaign for the Government to do so much more on this issue.