The escalation of violence in Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel is appalling. In a joint letter with Sheffield’s other Labour MPs, I’ve called on the UK Government to use its international influence to help stop the increasing violence.I utterly condemn the attacks that have endangered civilian lives and resulted in Palestinian and Israeli casualties, including the heart-breaking loss of many children. Communities here in the UK and around the world have been horrified by these scenes and are gravely concerned by the prospect of the situation deteriorating further.
First, it was totally unacceptable to see violence used against worshippers gathering during Ramadan at the al-Aqsa mosque. It is absolutely essential that holy sites are respected. The Labour Party is calling on the UK government to make the strongest representations to the government of Israel to reduce tensions.
But as the situation continues to escalate, there must be an immediate end to the rocket attacks and air strikes from both sides that risk further civilian fatalities. With the coordinated support of the international community, Palestinian and Israeli leaders must work to urgently de-escalate tensions. Anything less is an abject failure of responsibility which will lead to further suffering.
It is clear that East Jerusalem has been illegally annexed. Israel is the occupying power which creates obligations that the Israeli government is not meeting. Israel must comply with international law.
I believe it is vital that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is negotiated which ensures a safe and secure Israel, alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. The UK government should make urgent representations to the Israeli Government to halt all evictions in East Jerusalem, change planning laws which discriminate against Palestinians and suspend the construction of all other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank immediately.
Shockingly, we have seen sickening displays of antisemitism in some areas of the country. The actions of the Israeli Government can never be an excuse or reason for racism and just as we unite to condemn the appalling discrimination of Palestinians, so must we stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters who are subject to race hate themselves. This is not mutually exclusive or contradictory.