I appreciate your patience during this time as thousands of constituents have written to be about this important issue. The situation is changing rapidly and I am monitoring it closely. I have aimed below to address the main points constituents have written to me about.
I have worked extensively on this issue for many years, you can view my work as a Member of Parliament and of the European Parliament here.
Most recently I have:
- Raised the issue of hospitals in Gaza being bombed with the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons.
- Wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary about the urgency of the situation. You can read his response here.
- Raised to the Prime Minister the rise of Islamophobia and the dehumanising language towards Palestinians.
- Raised to the Prime Minister the need for measures that will secure long lasting peace.
- I met with Andy Burnham and Leaders from across Greater Manchester with community members to discuss this issue.
- I have called for a ceasefire, echoing the calls of the UN General Secretary.
I am deeply alarmed by the unfolding events that continue to transpire in Israel and Palestine following news of a violent attack by Hamas in Israel over one week ago. There is never an excuse for attacking innocent civilians, and the continuing cycles of violence only make a long-lasting peace settlement harder to achieve.
As talks of war escalate, I am concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation in Israel and Palestine and the impact this will continue to have on civilians in the affected areas following deadly airstrikes on the Gaza strip by Israeli authorities. The decision taken by Israel to cut off all food, fuel and electricity to Gaza is unacceptable, risks igniting a humanitarian crisis and may amount to war crimes.
I was horrified last night to hear reports of bombs hitting Al Ahli hospital. The UK Government is awaiting the investigation on this attack to be complete, however this is undoubtedly a breach of international law. Those guilty of this attack must be held accountable to the full extent of the law. I raised the issue of access to hospitals with the Foreign Secretary this week during a second Urgent Question on the issue this week. You can view that here.
Civilians, including vulnerable children and families are facing mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies as well as access to electricity and urgent access to healthcare and I wholly support the United Nations World Food Programme’s call to create humanitarian corridors to bring food into Gaza. With reports of over 100,000 Palestinians being displaced in wake of the violence, it is imperative that access to basic necessities is of paramount concern and priority to authorities. It is unacceptable for the Israeli armed forces to demand 1.1 million people move from Northern Gaza.
The ongoing casualties and loss of human life in Israel and Palestine are a deeply tragic and disheartening reality. I urge the Government to consider the human cost of this conflict and to support humanitarian measures to help those who gravely affected by the violence. I have called for weeks now on the international community to come together to support de-escalation measures and an immediate ceasefire, as demanded by the UN General Secretary.
As an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights and an advocate for a viable two-state solution for the past 30 years, I condemn all acts of violence and will continue to advocate for achieving a peaceful resolution in which a secure Israel exists alongside a strong Palestinian state. It is imperative we take decisive action to prevent further devastation and I will continue to advocate for immediate measures to support those in need.
I know my Labour colleague and friend, Lisa Nandy, Minister for International Development, wrote to the Government highlighting the need to 1) move aid closer to Gaza 2) more funding for UNRWA who provide care for the Palestinian people 3) safe evacuation corridors 4) maintain safety for UN facilities, aid workers, and journalists.
I have also raised this with the Labour Party leadership team on numerous occasions and will continue to have these discussions within the party to ensure Labour advocates for safety and peace for all living in the region. I have also met with all Arab Ambassadors in the region, including the Palestinian Ambassador to ensure I hear their concerns and can raise them wherever possible. I was pleased to hear Leader Keir Starmer has clarified his position last week, which you can view here.
I raised this issue with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly right away, which you can read the full letter here. I also had the opportunity to speak to the Foreign Secretary in person to reiterate these calls.
I had the opportunity to intervene in an Urgent Question on the issue. You can listen to my full statement here. The dehumanising language towards Palestinians must end, which is why I raised the issue with the Prime Minister, where his earliest comments contributed to this. I believe all forms of hatred must be stopped, including Islamophobia and antisemitism.
As a member of the Shadow Front Bench team, I am unable to sign Early Day Motions due to the rules of the frontbench. However, it is important to note EDMs are a way to raise awareness, but do not have standing alone to change policy. I also must note, Parliament prorogued last week, meaning all Parliamentary business, including EDMs have now lapsed. It is not possible for any MP to sign the EDM from midday on Thursday, 26th October. I have individually called for a ceasefire and announced this on social media so all constituents are aware of my position.
I know this has been an extremely emotive and difficult issue to watch unfold. I want to thank you for writing to me about this important issue. I will continue to stand up for the Palestinian people and do everything in my power to ensure there is a recognised Palestinian state and peace in the region.