Kings Speech Gaza Amendment Vote

Kings Speech Gaza Amendment Vote


The war between Hamas and Israel has led to suffering in Gaza on a scale which is unimaginable. Seeing the images coming from Gaza, the thousands of children dead and maimed, the destruction on a catastrophic scale, the reaction of all of us must be that it has to stop. Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on October 7th was a brutal crime against humanity and it continues with the hostages cruelly held by Hamas and rockets launched daily by Hamas. There is no question in my mind that Israel has a right to defend itself, but it must do so proportionately in accordance with international law, which explicitly protects civilians.  In Gaza we are seeing the death of thousands of innocent civilians.

When we see death and destruction on this scale there is an overwhelming moral responsibility to do something to end the suffering. Over one thousand constituents have written to me, upset, angered, horrified by what they are seeing.   This evening there is a vote on amendments to the Kings Speech regarding Gaza and Israel.  I want to explain why I will be voting for Labour’s amendment, which seeks the lifting of the siege of Gaza and an end to the violence in Israel and Palestine and not for the Scottish National Party amendment which explicitly mentions a ceasefire.

The word ceasefire has become totemic and a source of conflict itself. What matters to me is stopping the bombing and suffering.  Following extensive discussion within the Labour Party and consultation with our sister parties in Europe and the US as well as stakeholders from across the Middle East and conversations with a number of people with detailed knowledge of the diplomatic efforts to stop the fighting my understanding is that to call for an immediate ceasefire may not be helpful in actually stopping the fighting. Hearing Hamas saying it will repeat the October 7th massacres on a daily basis and Israeli ministers spouting hate speech about Palestinians I can see that it is extremely difficult to bring them  immediately to a ceasefire. Sadly a ceasefire is not something the Israeli Government or the Hamas leadership appear to be prepared to contemplate at this time. Calling for it now would be a political gesture that could make an actual stop to the Israeli military operations that are killing civilians less likely. What we need  is action to help the people in Gaza now. Stopping the bombing to allow humanitarian aid, the return of the hostages and negotiations is the first, immediately achievable step to an enduring cessation of fighting and ultimately a political process to deliver a two state solution allowing both Palestinians and Israelis to live together in peace, security and dignity.

I recognise it is a matter of judgement.  I understand the hopes of many of those calling for an immediate ceasefire.  I would urge my constituent to read the Labour amendment in this spirit.

Text of the Labour amendment :

Amendment (r)
Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner
David Lammy
Yvette Cooper
Lisa Nandy
Sir Alan Campbell

At end add ‘and submit to Your Majesty that this House wishes to see an end to the violence in Israel and Palestine; unequivocally condemn the horrific terrorist attack and murder of civilians by Hamas, call for the immediate release of all hostages and reaffirm Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism; believe all human life is equal and that there has been too much suffering, including far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children, over the past month in Gaza; reaffirm the 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 in Gaza and Hamas’s attacks in Israel; call on Israel to protect hospitals and lift the siege conditions allowing food, water, electricity, medicine and fuel into Gaza; request the Government continue to work with the international community to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict in the region, guarantee that people in Gaza who are forced to flee during this conflict can return to their homes and seek an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank; and, while acknowledging the daily humanitarian pauses to allow in aid and the movement of civilians, believe they must be longer to deliver humanitarian assistance on a scale that begins to meet the desperate needs of the people of Gaza, which is a necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible and a credible, diplomatic and political process to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.’

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