All information correct at 17:00 on Tuesday 7th May.

Thank you for contacting me about the current unacceptable and intolerable offensive in Rafah. News that Israel entered Rafah on Monday is deeply worrying and Netanyahu’s planned offensive, as we have said since it was first mooted in February, must NOT go ahead, it is morally reprehensible, unacceptable, and I totally understand and echo your concerns. Israel must comply with international law and the UK Government must publish the legal evidence provided to it on this.

This war in Gaza must end now with an immediate ceasefire.

We secured another Urgent Question on this issue (07/06/2024), as we have done every week that parliament has sat since October, where we used the time to press the Government on the following questions:

  • Does the Minister agree that the overwhelming priority must be to see an immediate ceasefire, the immediate release of all hostages and unimpeded aid access to Gaza?
  • Does the Minister agree that an offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic consequences for the civilian population and must be stopped?
  • This is a critical time for aid access to Gaza to stem the spread of a human-made famine. What pressure are Ministers putting on the Israeli Government to reopen Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, which are critical lifelines for aid to get in?
  • The stop and start of aid in Gaza is causing real and lasting damage to civilians and demonstrates the clear need for UNRWA. Will the government now finally announce they are going to resume funding?
  • Does the Minister agree that Hamas should immediately release all hostages and that their cruel detention is prolonging this war?
  • Six weeks have passed since the UN Security Council passed resolution 2728 calling for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and humanitarian access to Gaza. What steps is the government taking to support its urgent implementation?
  • Does the Minister share my view that it is wrong of Israel to shut down Al Jazeera and that the disastrous situation in Gaza makes it more important than ever that journalists are able to report freely?

You can read the urgent debate and questions here when it is published shortly.

Myself and my Labour Party colleagues are calling on the Government to do the following:

Act on it’s responsibility to protect Palestinians from further atrocity crimes in Rafah by using all diplomatic and political leverage, including halting arms sales that could be used in violation of international law, to prevent a ground invasion of Rafah. – from the very beginning we have called for this, and written to the Government to seek assurances, see here: 

 Publicly and unequivocally oppose efforts to further displace Palestinians – many of whom are children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and the sick – including into unilaterally imposed so-called “humanitarian islands” or “safe zones”, which risks further harm to civilians. – We have been raising this issue from the very beginning and prior to the 7th October, see here

Demand Israel upholds its obligations as the occupying power in Gaza to ensure that the occupied population receives adequate food and shelter and can access suitable sanitation and healthcare facilities. Israel must immediately lift its total closure of Gaza, reopen all land crossings, and allow unhindered access for aid and aid workers. – from the very beginning we have called for this, please see here: 

Push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and heed the call from 36 UN experts to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people. – The Labour Party passed a motion for an immediate ceasefire in line with the subsequent UN resolution and have been calling on the Government to follow, see here

On April 17, Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy raised the issue of the Government softening it’s language to Netanyahu particularly regarding Rafah, you can read this here.

It is now over six months since the appalling October 7th terrorist attack by Hamas terrorists, since then, 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. 

As you detail, many aid workers have lost their lives and the killing of seven aid workers, including three British citizens, who were delivering food to those in desperate need, is the latest injustice. Words are not enough to protect those at risk of losing their lives and the UK government must use every ounce of diplomatic leverage it has to create the conditions needed for an immediate ceasefire that is observed by both sides. 

The UK government must also unequivocally commit to complying with international law in this conflict, including following the licensing criteria governing arms sales, and it must call on Israel to implement the provisional measures in full in the ICJ’s binding January ruling.

We also need to look ahead to how we can build a just and lasting peace out of 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 outcome of that process, because statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour. No one nation can have a veto over Palestinian recognition.

The current intensive diplomatic negotiations to find that ceasefire appears to be a last chance and I hope this get across the line in the first steps towards justice and a lasting peace.

You can find my response for April 2024 here.

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