Skip to main content
Foreign AffairsNationalNews and viewsParliamentPortsmouth

The ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza – an update

By 10 May 2024No Comments

It has now been over six months since the appalling October 7th terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, which killed 1,200 and has left many still held hostage in Gaza.

In the months that have followed, Israel’s campaign has led to intolerable death and destruction, with more than 33,000 Palestinians killed and more than a million facing the imminent prospect of famine.

While negotiations to achieve a desperately needed ceasefire stall and falter, Israel has expanded its military operation into Rafah, vital aid routes have been closed, and the threat of a full-scale military invasion into Rafah remains.

I have been making the case since last year that this war must end now with an immediate ceasefire.

That’s why I have been consistently applying pressure on the UK Government and Foreign Secretary since December through written parliamentary questions asking the Deputy Foreign Secretary to set out what progress has been made, a letter to the Foreign Secretary calling for urgent action to bring about this aim, followed by a vote in Parliament in February for a pathway to a permanent ceasefire adhered to by both sides.

I have also been clear from the start that an Israeli offensive in Rafah would be catastrophic to the estimated 1.4 million Palestinians sheltering there. It must not go ahead.

Those sheltering simply have no alternative safe location to go, having evacuated to Rafah following Israeli military orders, from homes that have been largely destroyed.

You can read my letter to the Foreign Secretary raising concerns on the devastating impacts of a potential Israeli military operation in Rafah here.

In all my lobbying of the Government I make clear the urgent priority must be to secure an immediate ceasefire, the immediate release of hostages, and immediate unimpeded aid to Gaza.

There is an international consensus that this ever-greater humanitarian catastrophe must be averted.

In the immediate term, the stop and start of aid in Gaza is causing real and lasting damage to civilians and demonstrates the clear need for UNRWA. I will continue to call on the Government to resume funding for this vital organisation, which I met when visiting Palestine last September with Medical Aid for Palestinians, as many other major donors such as Germany, Canada and Australia have done so.

The Foreign Secretary has said the Government expects all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and minimise civilian casualties, but this rhetoric must now be matched with action.

Words are not enough to protect those at risk from losing their lives.

The Government must now use every ounce of diplomatic leverage it has to create the conditions needed for an immediate ceasefire that is observed by both sides.

The Government must also unequivocally commit to complying with international law in this conflict, including following the licensing criteria governing arms sales, as well as calling on Israel to implement the provisional methods in the ICJ’s binding January ruling in full.

I share the great concern of constituents that Israel’s actions may have resulted in breaches to international humanitarian law.

That’s why in my most recent question to the Attorney General in the House of Commons I used the opportunity to highlight concerns raised with me by constituents and Medical Aid for Palestinians, regarding Israel’s continued failure to comply with the interim ruling issued by the International Court of Justice. You can read more about my question here.

British arms licenses cannot be granted if there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

I raised this with the Foreign Secretary last month calling on him to share his legal advice and suspend arms sales to Israel if that advice indicates Israel is in breach of international law. You can read my letter in full here.

Looking to the future, a lasting and just peace must be built from the horrors of this war.

This can only happen with a clear pathway to a two-state solution, where both Israelis and Palestinians can have security, justice, freedom and opportunity in their own lands.

This must include working with international partners to recognise a Palestinian state as a contribution to, rather than an outcome of, that process – because statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour.

I will continue using all avenues available to me to call for an end to the violence and to support a path to lasting peace.

You can keep up to date on my written parliamentary questions here and view my previous update on this matter here.