Gaza Update - May 2024
Gaza Update - May 2024

I have been horrified by the continuing atrocities in Gaza and the wider Middle East, particularly with Israel’s recent decision to proceed with the Rafah ground offensive.

 

First and foremost, we need to achieve an immediate ceasefire, to put an end right now to all fighting in Gaza and against any military action in Rafah, which will lead to truly catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

 

A ceasefire would allow the remaining hostages to be released, aid to flow into the region and the reinstatement of a process towards a two-state solution.

 

I am appalled that despite increasing international pressure, the peace negotiations appear to be going backwards. It is plain to see that the conflict is not just continuing but intensifying.

 

This week the ICC prosecutor has taken the step to seek arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders.

 

Labour and I believe implicitly that the ICC’s independence must be upheld and respected, and that it is right that the conduct of all parties is addressed by the Court.

 

I am shocked by the Government’s utter refusal to respect this decision and hold both Israeli and Hamas leaders accountable to humanitarian law. The Tories have U-turned on one of Britain’s most fundamental principles: respect for the rule of law. 

 

The ICC is a concernstone of the international legal system and the UK’s support should apply regardless of the Court’s focus. In my view, the Government must also unequivocally commit to complying with 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.

 

What’s more I stand with the EU and UN in warning against an offensive in Rafah. Netanyahu has consistently ignored the international community and now we are seeing the severe consequences for civilians. Israel’s campaign has led to intolerable death and destruction, with more than 33,000 Palestinians killed.

 

Labour is clear: if the Rafah offensive proceeds, we support suspending all weapons or components that could be used in that offensive.

 

I have also read reports of aid reportedly being blocked and northern Gaza falling into a full-blown famine. There must be a lifting of all Israeli restrictions on the flow of aid to alleviate the urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

 

Additionally, I am greatly concerned to see that Israel has shut down Al Jazeera. Now more than ever we need to ensure journalists have free access to report from Gaza. Labour will always stand for the freedom of press around the world.

 

Looking ahead we must 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.

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