The deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine has escalated once again this week – and many constituents have written to me in the past few days to express their deep concerns about what is happening.
In a letter to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, I have urged the UK government to take immediate action in support of a ceasefire.
Hague has rightly called on Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza to bring an end to the attacks on Southern Israel, but he must also call on Israel to end its devastating air strikes on Gaza.
So while those in the region who carry influence with Hamas must help to bring about an end to the attacks on Southern Israel, we also need to see far greater pressure being exerted on Israel, directly or indirectly, to prevent a further escalation of violence on the ground.
Hague rightly warns Israel that it could lose international support if it were to mount a ground offensive, but it is disappointing that he failed to highlight Israel’s greater responsibility, as the occupying power, for the current increase in tension – instead placing the ‘principal blame’ with Hamas.
Nor did he condemn the disproportionate, and potentially political, nature of the current military action – with Israel about to go to the polls in January.
Israeli civilians have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza, and I condemn wholeheartedly the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Palestinians also have the right to live without fear of attack, and with the right to freedom of movement and to justice.
The loss of life and the injuries caused to innocent civilians in this new wave of violence is deeply saddening, and both sides must now be held to account by the international community for their role.
In the longer term, to secure a meaningful peace for the region – a peace which most Israelis and Palestinians desperately want – we need to see new energy brought to the process of negotiating a peaceful two-state settlement.
And as part of that, it’s vital to end the ongoing occupation of Palestine, the daily siege on Gaza, and the persistent breaches of international law and human rights that make this conflict so resonant across the Middle East and beyond.