Thank you to everyone who has been in touch asking me to add my name to EDM 2161 on Gaza border violence. Unfortunately my role as an opposition whip prevents me from signing, but I wanted to share my views on this.
I am shocked and appalled by the violence that we have seen occur around protests in Gaza. The tragic loss of life and large number of Palestinians injured is extremely worrying. I am particularly concerned about the volume of live fire that has been used by Israeli forces.
In May 2018, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to dispatch an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violence. I believe the UK Government’s decision not to support this resolution was disgraceful.
I aware of the serious findings outlined by the Commission of Inquiry in its recently published report. I recognise that the Commission of Inquiry suggested war crimes or crimes against humanity could have been committed and recommended that every protest-related killing and injury is investigated. Those killed include children, paramedics and journalists.
I unequivocally condemn these killings and the UK Government should too. I believe the UK Government should also consider the matter of arms sales to Israel, in light of the events in Gaza.
I know there are also strong concerns about the role that non-state actors, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have played in instigating violence in Gaza and exploiting protests. I note that the Commission of Inquiry did not look comprehensively at the actions of non-state actors. All parties must commit to respecting peaceful protest, showing restraint and following international law.
Terrible events such as these remind us of the pressing need to work towards the two-state solution that we all want to see: a secure Israel living in peace alongside a viable state of Palestine and an end to the senseless cycle of violence. This will require both sides avoiding actions that put the two-state solution at risk and make peace harder to achieve. That must mean an end to the blockade of Gaza and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. It must also mean an end to incitement and rocket and terror attacks.