Statement on Israel and Gaza

I have been contacted by many constituents following the horrifying terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, and the unfolding events in Gaza. Many are fearful for their loved ones or grieving those who have been lost.  The distressing images and testimonies over the last week will never be forgotten.

I was in Israel earlier this year and visited the Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where I met members of the local community. It is truly heart-breaking seeing the images of their devastated homes and hearing the harrowing reports of what happened to the people that we met. Last week, I joined a vigil for all those grieving and worrying about the hostages that have been taken and are still being held.

It is right that Israel is supported in its efforts to defend itself, protect its citizens, and secure the release of those taken hostage, and that this is done within international law, including allowing humanitarian access to food, water, electricity, and medicines to Gaza and ensuring safe humanitarian corridors for those fleeing violence.

Responsibility for these atrocities’ rests squarely with Hamas and it is clear from their actions that they have no interest in fostering peace or safeguarding the well-being of Palestinians. Their actions have amplified the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians and represent a grievous setback in the pursuit of lasting peace.

It is also imperative that we differentiate between Hamas and the Palestinian people suffering terribly in this war, and their desire for dignity, freedom, justice, and self-determination. Hamas do not wish to see peace in the Middle East, they just want to see Israel wiped off the map.

These tragic events must not serve as a catalyst for division within our own communities here in the UK. The alarming rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents, including the abuse and assaults reported by the Community Security Trust and the Metropolitan Police, as well as the increase in cases reported by Tell Mama, is deeply concerning.

Ultimately if we want a just and lasting peace, we need a secure Israel, a sovereign Palestine and dignity, security and human rights for all Israeli’s and Palestinians. We must continue to work together to that end.