10th November 2023
Thank you for your email regarding the terrible conflict in Gaza.
Those that have raised this issue with me previously, will know that I completely condemn the violence that is occurring in the region and that I have called for a ceasefire. I have also already written to the Foreign Secretary on this matter, receiving a response which totally falls short of an adequate solution from this Conservative Government.
I have set up a special page on my website upon which I will post my latest communications on this fast-moving issue. You can access this page by following this link https://www.prestonmp.co.uk/middle-east
As the Labour Party is not in government, the Party is unable to dictate how the UK responds to conflicts in other parts of the world. Calling for the resignation of Sir Keir Starmer only deflects from the terrible mess that this Conservative Government has made of the UK over the past 13 years. The impact of the awful decisions the Government have made, not only affect us here in the UK with the cost-of-living crisis but also internationally, due to their continued failure to negotiate in this conflict.
It is imperative that we concentrate on ensuring that Labour does win at the next General Election so that the Party can influence the key decision makers involved in the Gaza conflict, namely Israel and America. It is important that we do not appear divided on the issues at a time when we need to come together to try and help those innocent people in the Middle East, who are suffering every minute that this conflict continues.
I would like to ask that we as a community in Preston come together to drive out a government that does not care. It is essential that we work together throughout this awful situation, to ensure that we can bring a government into power to alter the terrible circumstances that those individuals abroad and at home are suffering.
There has been a call for MPs to sign EDM 1685. An EDM bears no power at all, they are only used to put on record the views of individual MPs and do not have any bearing on the current government, legislation or in the international arena. Instead of signing the EDM, which incidentally fell when Parliament prorogued for the Kings Speech, I ensured that I wrote directly to the Government to apply pressure to the Foreign Secretary, a much more powerful way of making my voice and the voice of Prestonians, heard. I would like to be clear that again, at the time of writing, there has been no vote in the House of Commons on this issue.
Please do feel free to keep checking on my website listed above as I will ensure that any relevant correspondence and my voting record on this matter, if a vote is called, will be posted on there.
Please be assured that I will be keeping a close eye on this situation as it develops and I will continue to make the voices of the people of Preston heard at a National level.
31 October 2023
Thank you for your recent correspondence with me on this very critical and important issue. Recent events in Gaza have been so terrible that I believe that it is now time to call for a ceasefire.
Things on the ground in the Middle East are changing quickly on a daily basis and I am keeping a close watch on it as events unfold. This statement is meant to clarify my views on this issue and address some of the points that constituents have raised with me.
This is an issue that has been very close to my heart since I was elected to Parliament more than two decade ago. I visited both Palestine and Israel several times to meet with senior political leaders over that time and have been extremely troubled by the lack of progress to allow Palestinians to fully occupy their own land and live in peace and prosperity. I have visited both the West Bank and Gaza and have found the oppression from the Israelis despicable.
I have witnessed children being tried in a military court for throwing stones at the IDF and receiving sentences of up to two years for trivial offences. In the West Bank, when I visited it twenty years ago, there were estimated to be 50,000 so called ‘settlers’ and there are now around 600,000 of them, some of whom are being armed by the Israeli Government.
What we have witnessed since the horrific attack from Hamas, is indiscriminate bombing of innocent Palestinians, and I believe no respect for international law. What is happening in Gaza appears to me to bear strong resemblance to the Russian attacks on Ukraine. The sight of large swathes of urban destruction leaving large numbers of innocent people either dead, injured or homeless is not justifiable, whatever acts people claiming to be their representatives have carried out.
Recently, I attended a meeting with the Foreign Secretary at the Foreign Office (FCDO) on the morning of 17th October and raised specifically the issue of hospitals being forced to move their patients. That same day later on, the hospital at Al-Ahli in Gaza was bombed leaving hundreds of innocent civilians, dead and many other hundreds injured.
The day after my meeting with the Foreign Secretary, I wrote to him to urge the Israeli Government to do the following:
Only take necessary action in accordance with international law, protecting the lives of civilians in Gaza.
Allow humanitarian corridors and humanitarian access to the people in Gaza, which should include food, water, utilities and medicines.
Open up necessary border crossings.
Strive for lasting peace which includes a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine which guarantees dignity, security and human rights for all.
The response to my letter is available on my website at: https://www.prestonmp.co.uk/post/demand-action-from-uk-government-to-protect-palestinians
As the war escalates, I am gravely concerned that not only the Al-Ahli Hospital has been destroyed but also, the occupants of the Al-Quds Hospital in Northern Gaza are about to be either displaced or attacked, in what I would call a vindictive act of collective punishment.
The scale and nature of Israel’s attacks on Gaza are disproportionate and not justifiable on any grounds whatsoever. The ever-increasing loss of human life in Palestine is extremely tragic. I therefore call on the Government to urge the Israelis to support humanitarian measures to help those innocent people who are gravely affected by the violence.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for International Development, Lisa Nandy, wrote to the Government to press the need for 1) moving aid closer to Gaza, 2) increasing funding for UNRWA to care for Palestinian people, 3) for safe evacuation corridors and 4) to maintain safety for UN facilities, aid workers, and journalists who may be caught up in the fighting.
Some constituents have asked me to sign EDM 1685 which since the prorogation of Parliament is no longer valid and has expired. However, Parliament returns on 7th November 2023 and I shall continue to express my strong support for the Palestinian people.
I believe that what we are seeing from the Israelis, is the early stages of the ethnic cleansing of Gaza. I therefore, concur with the United Nations Secretary General and call for a ceasefire as soon as possible.
20 October 2023
Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the escalating violence in Palestine and Israel, particularly the alarming humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza. I share your concerns and understand the urgent need for action to protect innocent civilians and alleviate their suffering.
The recent increase in violence has resulted in a devastating loss of lives, and it is disheartening to hear that over 2 million Palestinians, including a high number of children, are trapped in the Gaza Strip. The already dire situation has been further compounded by the 16-year Israeli-enforced blockade, which has severely limited access to essential resources such as food, water, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies. The restrictions on freedom of movement have also hindered humanitarian efforts in the region.
I am deeply troubled by the reported statement of Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant regarding the complete siege on Gaza, depriving its residents of basic necessities. These actions, if confirmed, appear to contravene international law and could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is vital that these serious allegations are thoroughly investigated and addressed by the appropriate authorities.
Furthermore, it is distressing to learn that international humanitarian aid may be prevented from reaching Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. Denying essential aid to a civilian population, particularly during a time of crisis, would indeed be a violation of international law and must be addressed urgently.
On 18th October I wrote to The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs at the FCDO demanding action from the UK Government at this critical time and you can find the text of my letter below.
I assure you that as a member of the Labour Party and a representative in the UK Parliament, I am committed to advocating for a swift response from the UK government in collaboration with our international partners. It is imperative that we work towards an immediate cessation of hostilities, an end to the siege on Gaza, and the establishment of an international humanitarian corridor through the Rafah crossing. This corridor would enable the delivery of much-needed aid to the people of Gaza and allow those seeking refuge to safely leave the region.
I appreciate your engagement on this critical issue and understand the importance of continuous pressure from concerned citizens like yourself. Rest assured that I am dedicated to doing everything within my power to address this matter effectively.