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Ongoing conflict in Gaza

Updated: Dec 6, 2023



Like so many in Wakefield, I am deeply distressed by the unceasing violence and loss of innocent lives in Gaza and Israel. My heart breaks with every abhorrent image of death and destruction.


I condemn the brutal acts of terror committed by Hamas in Israel and the daily horrors we have seen in Gaza since. Every loss of life in this conflict is a tragedy.


Israel has the right to go after the terrorists who carried out the attacks and get their hostages back, but this is not a blank cheque. Israel must submit to the rules of international law and both sides are answerable to the International Criminal Court.


I have been contacted by hundreds of my constituents regarding the ongoing conflict and with this in mind I am pleased to confirm my support for the Labour’s amendment to the Kings Speech on Wednesday 15th November 2023. Let me outline what our amendment included:


1. Condemn the attacks: Condemns the horrific terrorist attack and murder of civilians by Hamas.


2. Release the hostages: Calls for the immediate release of all hostages.


3. All human life is equal: Asserts that all human life is equal and that there has been too much suffering, including far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children.


4. Respect international law: Reasserts UK’s commitment to the rules-based international order, international humanitarian law and the jurisdiction of the ICC to address the conduct of all parties.


5. Lift the siege: Calls on Israel to protect hospitals and lift the siege conditions allowing food, water, electricity, medicine and fuel into Gaza.


6. Prevent escalation: Requests the UK Government continues to work with the international community to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict in the region.


7. Right to return home: Ensures people in Gaza who are forced to flee during this conflict can return to their homes.


8. End illegal settlement expansion: Seeks an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank.


9. Cessation of fighting: Calls for longer humanitarian pauses to allow in aid and the movement of civilians as a necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible.


10. Two-state solution: Seeks a credible, diplomatic and political process to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.


I understand that some of my constituents that are disappointed that the specific word “ceasefire” was not used, though I would argue that a “enduring cessation of fighting” is in fact stronger.


We are all crying out for peace, and whilst calling for an immediate ceasefire may temporarily ease our collective conscience, the conflict will undoubtedly continue.


Let me explain why I think this is the case. The first responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety of its people. Therefore, Israel will never agree to a ceasefire whilst Hamas continues to hold hundreds of innocent civilians as hostages and whilst it retains the capability, and clear intent, to commit further attacks on the Israeli people. This is something confirmed by Hamas in a recent statement when they said: “We will repeat the October 7 attack time and again until Israel is annihilated”.

There is a fear that any unilateral and unconditional ceasefire would only serve to allow Hamas to entrench their position, elongating this intolerable conflict.


There is however international consensus around humanitarian pauses. They are a crucial first step, but on their own won't make the impact needed to relieve this humanitarian crisis. The damage to water pipelines and other infrastructure to hospitals need to be rebuilt, and that requires a longer pauses with an ultimate ambition of securing an enduring cessation of fighting that we all crave.


I have also joined Labour’s calls for a coordinated Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fund appeal with matched government funding to provide essential humanitarian aid to Gaza, and to create a longer-term fund for Gaza’s reconstruction. I will be working with local leaders to help coordinate and promote fundraising efforts here in Wakefield.

For too long, we have talked about a two-state solution and the dignity and justice of a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, without serious focus on making it happen. We have allowed welcome progress in improving relations between Israel and its neighbours to sit without any progress on the future for Palestine and its people.


That must change. In the long term there can only be a political solution to this crisis, which is why Labour stands for a political path to a two-state solution.

I am disturbed by reports from The Community Safety Trust, Tell Mama and the Police that there has been a steep increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia. I will always denounce hate crime in the strongest terms. There is no place in Britain, and no place in Wakefield for antisemitism or Islamophobia.

Just as, when Danish Islamophobe Rasmus Paludan tried to cause division and fear in Wakefield I stood firmly with our community and made sure that his hatred was extinguished. I will do so again, without hesitation, should anyone seek to divide our community again.

We must not allow others to use these tragic events to sow division. I have and will continue to meet with community leaders who share my concerns about division here at home.

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