Like you, and many local people in Newport West and across the world, I am horrified by what we are seeing on social media and on our television screens from Gaza. I want to be very clear that I totally and without equivocation condemn the actions of Hamas on October 7th 2023, and join the global, and local, demands for the immediate release of all hostages taken on that horrendous day.
And as we all strive for peace, and respect, I condemn the bombing of innocent men, women and children in the Gaza. The destruction of 22 of the 32 hospitals in Gaza is particularly deplorable and I join all calls for international law to be observed by all partners involved, including the Government of Israel. We must ensure that all necessary action is taken against those who have committed war crimes.
Further, I condemn all calls by the Government of Israel through leaflets and social media that urges Palestinians to leave the north of Gaza and travel south. Of course, Israel has the right to self-defence and to degrade the capabilities of Hamas. But it must do so within international law because self-defence is not a blank cheque. That means civilians, hospitals, schools, and refugee camps must be protected and cannot be targets.
That is why we need an immediate action to relieve this humanitarian crisis. The damage to water pipelines and other infrastructure to hospitals need to be rebuilt, and that requires a longer pause. The aid getting into Gaza is still completely insufficient and it is totally unacceptable that Israel still has not lifted the siege conditions.
Nobody can deny that far too many Palestinian civilians and children have been killed – one life is one too many. It is clear that there has been far too much civilian suffering over the past month. That is why Hamas must release the hostages and stop using civilians as human shields and Israel must take urgent, concrete steps to protect civilians.
On October 27th 2023, I wrote to Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Labour Party, expressing my support for a cessation of hostilities and fighting. That is how we allow for real and tangible humanitarian provision to enter Gaza and prevent any devastating further loss of innocent lives.
That is why I supported Labour’s amendment to the Kings Speech on Wednesday 15th November and you can see the Amendment that I supported, below:
“At end add ‘and submit to Your Majesty 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.”
I cannot, like many people, stop thinking about this crisis. I will continue to work every day for the two-state solution that is the only way we will see the peace and safety that people in Palestine and Israel so desperately need.
Member of Parliament for Newport West