News & press releases

Statement on Killing of Palestinians and Israel Arms Embargo

June 11, 2018

  • Killing of Palestinian Protestors
  • Israel Arms Embargo
  • Gaza Support / Humanitarian Crisis
  • Independent investigation into killings

I unreservedly condemn the indiscriminate killing of protesters in Palestine by Israeli forces. These actions are only made more deplorable by the fact that among the wounded and the slaughtered are children.

The Labour party has long called for a ceasefire to all hostilities and for a democratic dialogue to take place instead of violence. Whilst protesters are not always peaceful it is the definition of a disproportionate response when the Israeli army fires into crowd of protesters who are often completely unarmed.

I am very keen to raise this issue more in Parliament, and the Labour party has made several statements on the issue. Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, has called for an end to the “vicious cycle of violence that can never lead us towards peace”. Disappointingly, her urgent questions in Parliament regarding the issue have often been met with the absence of Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, who refuses to answer questions regarding the Tory party’s policy on the Middle East.
 
With respect to the licensing of arms for export to Israel, the criteria on granting licenses precludes the issuing of a license where there is a risk that items must be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law. I have also signed EDM 1305 which calls for a suspension of UK sales to Israel unless it can be demonstrated that weapons and components exported from the UK are used solely in accordance with the consolidated criteria on arms sales.

Furthermore, the humanitarian collapse in Gaza and the ongoing conditions of crisis there, are simply intolerable and I am growing increasingly concerned by the continual disregard for the value of Palestinian lives. We need to bring an end to this travesty and the UK Government needs to urge more strongly for the provision of sufficient healthcare in the area.

The people of Gaza cannot afford to wait until the resolution of this conflict to be relieved of such horrific living conditions. Gaza’s medical facilities cannot cope with the number of casualties and the blockade of the Gaza Strip has meant that much needed medical supplies cannot easily enter the territory.

I would like to see that UK aid to the occupied Palestinian territory goes toward long-term investments, such as the development of infrastructure as well as services such as water treatment, education, and healthcare. Investments such as these will help protect the welfare of people living in this area for generations to come and hopefully establish a precedent for heightened commitment to ensuring their welfare. I will continue to push for the Government to support the OCHA’s funding appeal for Gaza so that they reach their US$25 million goal.

Many of my Labour colleagues and I plan to pressure the Government to use all diplomatic means, both multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council and bilateral relations with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, to ensure accountability for violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring an end to the closure of Gaza.

I am extremely disappointed that the UK Government has taken the decision to not support a UN Commission of Inquiry into the shocking scale of killings of civilian protesters in Gaza, or the most recent UN resolution condemning indiscriminate Israeli use of force and calling for the protection of Palestinians.

I will endeavour to hold the UK Government to account and raise these issues in Parliament because I feel very strongly about the injustice of the violence taking place in that region.

All countries must be accountable to international law and the international community must at last put its collective authority and weight behind achieving a lasting settlement that delivers peace, justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, who have waited so long to achieve their rights.