These past few weeks has everyone asking, what is the world coming to? It’s something I too have been wondering. We are all in this world for a brief period. That is why I am calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire on both sides and have recently voted for this in Parliament.
I have been dealing with a case that has caused me many sleepless nights and plenty of tears. A constituent’s 75-year-old Mum has been feared kidnaped by the terrorists Hamas, taken from her home in Israel.
Like you, I have been watching with mounting horror the images and reports emerging from Israel and Gaza. There can be no justification for the barbarity and terror that Hamas inflicted on innocent Israelis. I condemn it, unequivocally.
The inhumane and sickening attack on civilians is a war crime and should be treated as such. I join those calling for Israeli hostages to be freed immediately, without preconditions. Hamas broke international law. Their actions do not serve the just cause of Palestinian freedom and statehood.
Israel has the right to defend herself. However, all responses must be proportionate and within international law – which clearly prohibits the collective punishment which innocent Palestinians are now facing.
In the darkness of Gaza, which is now without power, fuel, water and food supplies, are many innocent children, men and women living in terror and fearing for their lives, as the war between Israel and Hamas rages around them.
I have constituents contacting me worried about family members in Gaza who are at risk of being killed or starved to death. 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza have been told to flee from the north. But where will they go that is safe?
This direction alone underlines the scale of the unfolding humanitarian disaster and displacement taking place. It does not have to be this way.
We must not become desensitised to people dying – to seeing children harmed and parents pulling loved ones from rubble. At the time of writing, there are currently 1,400 Israeli deaths from the attacks, mostly civilians, and over 11,000 Palestinian deaths.
It is at times like this that leaders need to lead. The international community has a responsibility to step up and deliver the humanitarian response needed to safeguard innocent lives, and to make sure that the civilians of Gaza have access to the very basics like food, water, medicines and power generators they need; coordinating our efforts with Israel, Egypt and the wider region. We must stand up for human rights.
I have been deeply moved and concerned by recent reports of the bombing of Ahli Arab Hospital in Northern Gaza where people have been killed. There is never any justification for the bombing of hospitals. An immediate ceasefire on both sides will ensure that something like this does not happen again.
The UK government and the international community must do all that it can to secure an urgent ceasefire. That is why I have joined colleagues in signing Early Day Motion 1685, to directly call on the Government to do everything that it can to press for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for all involved. There can be no peace without it.
I am also a signatory to Zarah Sultana MPs Kings Speech Amendment B which calls on the Government to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians in Israel and Palestine.
I welcome the recent news of an agreement to release some hostages and for a temporary stop to the fighting. I hope this agreement is respected by all, so that hostages can urgently return home to safety and humanitarian aid can get into Gaza.
I also hope this time can be used to move towards a full negotiated ceasefire on both sides, further agreements to release hostages and lasting peace in the region.
It is moments like this, when it is most difficult, when the boundaries and standards we have agreed become most important. My constituents just want their family members to be safe, healthy and returned to them unharmed.
The death toll among Israelis and Palestinians continues to mount. I grieve for innocent lives lost and I pray for the endless cycle of war to stop. I grieve for all lives equally, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish or Muslim, Christian or of no faith.
This tension is being felt here in London too. Within our local community are families and friends who are desperately worried for relatives and friends living in Israel and Gaza. My heart goes out to each of you, and I will continue to hold you all in my prayers and do as much as I can to lobby government to ensure your relatives are as safe as possible and brought to safety.
Beyond those directly affected are many more people who care passionately about this conflict. I am not an expert on this, but I pay close attention and urge for a de-escalation. I remain passionate about peace and a two-state solution. A safe, secure Israel alongside a safe, secure Palestinian state.
I was first elected in 2005 and I am hugely proud of the diversity of my Borough of Brent, treating everyone fairly and with respect. I am in touch with many residents and will continue to hold interfaith meetings and meetings with local Jewish, Muslim and civic community leaders.
We must preserve peace on the streets of Brent and schools must be able to remain open and Jewish people must be able to continue with their way of life safely in the UK. We must all stand together in the pursuit of peace. Extend an arm of friendship to neighbours across all faiths and none. I categorically condemn any instances of Antisemitism and Islamophobia. We must not allow hatred to flourish. Our Borough of Brent is a beacon of hope.
My constituent, Noam, is heartbroken after his mother was kidnapped by Hamas. Noam carries no hate for the people of Gaza – he carries no hate for people who are Muslim, no hate for the Arabs, no hate for Palestinians. His love of all humanity remains resolute.
I want to end my statement with a quote from David Barr:
“The Palestinian people are people. Every person is made in the image of God. My heart goes out for them as well. They are hostages like we are.”
And if you would like to read my views on this conflict in further detail, you can read my recent article here: https://metro.co.uk/2023/11/10/politicians-like-owe-humanity-call-a-ceasefire-gaza-sides-19800215/
You may want to help with the humanitarian effort – there are many options to do so, including the following:
Medical Aid for Palestinians: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gaza-emergency2023?fbclid=IwAR2wI8FDwa2M2_UnCP9l_g10xD1qqkJcaZoAEd1ux9HdDvLRutDj9fVSpAE
Updated 22nd November 2023