Like many of my constituents, I have been horrified to see the descent into violence in Gaza and the West Bank over the last week. The killing of civilians is appalling. The violence must end.
I strongly condemn Israeli air strikes that have killed more than two hundred Palestinian civilians, including dozens of children. There can be no justification for actions that cause such high numbers of civilian casualties and which have destroyed medical facilities, schools, and the offices of international media outlets.
I also strongly condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups which target Israeli cities and have killed Israeli civilians. Labour is calling on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to urgently de-escalate these attacks and urge the government to work for a UN Security Resolution to put pressure on Israel and Hamas to accept a ceasefire. There is no military solution to this conflict.
I am deeply concerned about the forced evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and I condemn these attempts by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian homes. East Jerusalem has been illegally annexed by Israel and the UK government should be making urgent representations to the Israeli government to halt all evictions in East Jerusalem, change discriminatory planning laws, and suspend the construction of all other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank immediately.
I was also shocked to see the violence used against worshippers gathered during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque. There must be respect for all religious sites.
I believe that ending this cycle of conflict depends on cessation of violence, negotiation for a peaceful two-state solution and adherence to international law at all times. The UK must work with international partners to do more to address the underlying drivers of injustice and insecurity in the region.
I am pleased to report today that Labour’s Urgent Question to the government about their efforts to force a ceasefire has been granted and this will be heard tomorrow, Wednesday 19 May.
The UK government can – and must – play a stronger role in ending this conflict, working with the international community to reinforce our commitment to a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East.