The scale of human suffering which we have seen in Israel and Gaza in recent weeks is devastating.
Thousands of innocent civilians – babies, children, families and communities – killed and the humanitarian emergency facing Gaza growing increasingly urgent.
I, like my constituents, desperately want to see an end to the violence and to this conflict. My responsibility, as a Member of Parliament, is to consider how we can bring this about in order to begin the political road to peace. This is a responsibility which weighs heavily on me.
Last night, I voted in favour of Labour’s amendment and abstained on the SNP’s amendment regarding the situation in Israel and Gaza. I recognise that this will have disappointed many of my constituents who have called on me to support an immediate ceasefire.
The British government and international partners can seek to influence moves towards a ceasefire, but only Israel and Hamas can negotiate and agree to one. While at this time both Israel and Hamas indicate that they will not accept nor abide by a ceasefire, it is right that we still focus on all steps that may eventually lead to an enduring cessation of fighting and the lasting peace of a two-state solution.
This is why I voted in favour of Labour’s amendment.
Daily humanitarian pauses are an important and welcome step, but they must be longer if we are to deliver humanitarian assistance on the scale required to meet the needs of people in Gaza. “Israel must protect hospitals and lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel into Gaza.
Civilians must be protected and be able to return if they are forced to flee.
I condemn Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October 2023 and call for the immediate release of all hostages. Israel, like any other country, has the right to defend itself and to keep its people safe.
This must, however, be done proportionately and in accordance with international law. The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court should apply to the conduct of all parties.
My hope is for a peaceful future where Israeli citizens can live free from the fear of terrorist attacks and where Palestinian people can enjoy the freedoms and opportunities which we too often take for granted.
The current situation in Israel and Gaza demands that the international community redoubles its efforts for a two-state solution. This means not returning to a failed history of broken ceasefires and instead walking the difficult path of a concerted effort towards a viable and enduring peace.
I share the profound sorrow and grief expressed by my constituents in Lewisham East at the events unfolding in Israel and Gaza and I continue to keep in mind constituents’ views as the situation develops.
My hope is for a future where Israel and Palestine can peacefully and securely co-exist.
Labour’s Amendment to the King’s Speech
“That this House wishes to see an end to the violence in Israel and Palestine;
unequivocally condemn the horrific terrorist attack and murder of civilians by Hamas, call for the immediate release of all hostages and reaffirm Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism;
believe all human life is equal and that there has been too much suffering, including far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children, over the past month in Gaza;
reaffirm 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;
call on Israel to protect hospitals and lift the siege conditions allowing food, water, electricity, medicine and fuel into Gaza;
request the Government continue to work with the international community to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict in the region, guarantee that people in Gaza who are forced to flee during this conflict can return to their homes and seek an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank;
and, while acknowledging the daily humanitarian pauses to allow in aid and the movement of civilians, believe they must be longer to deliver humanitarian assistance on a scale that begins to meet the desperate needs of the people of Gaza, which is a necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible and a credible, diplomatic and political process to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.”