Date: 07.06.21 | in: Foreign Affairs

I have for a long time and well before I was an elected politician, believed that the UK should immediately recognise a Palestinian State, dismantle all settlements and the separation wall, recognise Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine and support renewed International efforts to make this a reality. I have used every avenue available to me as a UK Opposition MP to will this into being.

I am deeply saddened to have seen, once again, the escalation of tensions in Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel over the past number of months. I am horrified by the fact that at least 256 civilians, including 66 children, were killed by Israeli air strikes in May. The Hamas rocket attacks into Israel must also be wholly condemned.

The escalation of violence whether that be air strikes, rocket attacks or inter-communal violence within Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories concerns the whole of the international community and we must find a way towards peace.

I am relieved therefore that we have seen a ceasefire, though I am aware of the instances of violence that have occurred during this time. I am also hopeful that a new wide-ranging Knesset will allow the political space for a new approach and for an achievable peace.

The UK Government must assess – in line with all obligations – the use of exported arms and equipment, and report to Parliament on whether licences issued for exports to the Israeli security forces could be used for internal repression, external aggression or violations of international humanitarian law.

I am deeply concerned about the situation in East Jerusalem. The forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan must stop and I condemn attempts by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian homes. The UK Government should make urgent representations to the Israeli Government to halt all evictions in East Jerusalem, change planning laws that discriminate against Palestinians and suspend the construction of all other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank immediately.

I am involved in setting up UK Chapters of both Peace Now and Standing Together. In a recent meeting with Sally Abed and Alon-Lee Green of Standing Together we discussed what action we could take to stop funds being raised in the UK that are supporting the evictions and raise funds to support the legal cases against the evictions which Peace Now have a leading role in. I am currently pursuing this as real practical action we can take to support the residents in East Jerusalem.

I was also shocked to see the violence used against worshippers gathered during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque – this was totally unacceptable. It is essential that sacred sites of all faiths are treated with the utmost respect and that there is no repeat of incidents such as those we have seen recently.

I exist in the precarious political space that believes in a recognised, sovereign and peaceful Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel. I believe that these two nation states should not just co-exist but thrive as neighbours. To get there, we must renew our focus as an international community on negotiating this two state solution and as a country, recognise Palestine as a state as 138 other countries have done.

As I wrote with my colleague, Afzal Khan in the Guardian last month, this latest escalation follows decades of violence, occupation and settlement, of mistrust and religious hate. Britain’s Muslims and Jews look back at Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands on the White House lawn in 1993 as a moment of hope, but this hope was snatched away by those benefiting from division and war.

This conflict is acutely painful for our communities and the feelings and sentiments evoked are as complicated as the geopolitical realities that underpin the violence.

I am unafraid to call for more and stricter action against the Israeli Government and settler movement as it attempts to denude Palestinians of their homes and livelihoods.

My Early Day Motions on the issue

My 2018 response on horrific violence in Gaza

All details are correct at date of publication shown at the top of the article

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