Many people in Bristol have contacted me to express their horror at the death and destruction in Gaza and Israel. The overwhelming majority express a desperate desire for a ceasefire and for the bloodshed to stop.
I absolutely share this desire for a permanent ceasefire, and to see the two states of Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security.
This will take painstaking diplomacy, based on a deep understanding of history. I believe engaging in this diplomatic process—helping find and chart a viable path to a lasting peace—must be Labour’s focus as a prospective party of government. This means supporting concrete, achievable steps that create the conditions under which a permanent ceasefire is possible.
The pause in hostilities and release of some hostages earlier this month were a tentative first step, and it has been heart-breaking to see fighting resume. Labour is pushing for a longer truce, to allow a sustained response to the shocking humanitarian emergency in Gaza and for the release of the remaining hostages. We are also pushing hard for humanitarian access: the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is unimaginable and unrelenting, as we head into the worst of winter, and the supplies reaching people are still completely insufficient.
That’s why Keir Starmer took the opportunity of the COP gathering in Dubai to meet with Arab country leaders and the UN Secretary General and has been meeting regularly with Arab ambassadors in the UK. It’s why David Lammy, Lisa Nandy and our Shadow Foreign Office team have visited the region multiple times to negotiate for sustained humanitarian access, including across the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings.
We have also continued to urge Israel’s leaders to show restraint, to protect civilians, and to respect international law. As the military operation continues, the devastating tactics used in Northern Gaza must not be replicated. The continued blockade of Gaza and bombardment of civilian infrastructure by Israel are not acceptable and far, far too many innocent people in Gaza have been killed and displaced. We have also spoken out strongly against unacceptable and rising incidents of settler violence in the West Bank.
The international community can and must use the next truce to make political progress towards a permanent ceasefire—creating the conditions where Israel is secure from another attack like October 7 and Palestinians can see a path to statehood and the reconstruction and renewal of Gaza—and lay the groundwork for a process that can lead to a two-state solution that can provide security of Israel and justice for Palestine over the long term. My Labour colleagues and I are deeply committed to the painstaking diplomatic process that is needed to get us there.