Dawn's Metro Article - Politicians like me owe it to humanity to call for a ceasefire in Gaza on both sides

I’m not an expert on war, nor am I an expert on the long conflict in Israel and Palestine, but my brother was in the army and it not only left a lasting and damaging impression on him, but also me.

This war has a deep history. But from my limited experience, conflicts are often worsened by people – mainly men – with uncontrollable egos, and it is ordinary people who suffer in the process.

Every day, when I turn on the TV or open social media, I am taken aback by the immense suffering of people in Israel and Gaza; the inhumanity on display is truly sickening.

It is often said that the first casualty when war comes is truth, I think the second thing is compassion and humanity.

This humanitarian disaster unfolding before our very eyes makes me wonder what the world is coming to? 

And we’re forced to ask why it seems like no one, on either side, is speaking the language of peace to stop this human suffering.

In Parliament we have a Home Secretary delivering hateful speech at every opportunity and stoking dangerous divides within our society.  

And a Prime Minister who rightly calls out the disturbing and unacceptable rise in antisemitism but felt unable to mention the rise in islamophobia. Bearing in mind this month is Islamophobia Awareness Month, this adds insult to injury.  

And within the Labour Party there is a warped idea that there is no point in calling for a ceasefire because it is not going to happen. With that attitude, we would not have seen the end of South Africa apartheid or the end to slavery.

I’ve spent weeks calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, respected by both sides, because as someone who wants to see peace, that is what I can do as a politician, signing an Early Day Motion in Parliament on the issue, along with 94 others. 

But the job of seeking peace is made harder when, for example, a senior Labour sources was quoted as apparently saying the resignations of Labour councillors over Gaza are a sign the party is ‘shaking off the fleas’. We must respect the views and opinions of our elected officials.  

Let me be clear – a negotiated ceasefire is the way to protect civilians, and it is civilians who are suffering in this conflict.

1,400 Israelis were murdered by Hamas last month and we rightly condemned this barbaric terrorism. 

My constituent’s mum, a woman called Ada Sagi, was kidnapped by Hamas and is still unaccounted for. Their shameful actions do not serve the just cause of Palestinian freedom and statehood.  

In addition, since October 7, over 10,000 people have now been killed in Gaza. I grieve for all lives lost equally.

Israel, of course, has the right to defend herself – but as Keir Starmer said, the right to self-defence is not a blank cheque. And I agree. My constituent thinks the same – he wants the language of love to be louder than the language of hate.

But Israel does not have the right to breach international law. It does not have the right to inflict collective punishment. 

And it certainly does not have the right to obliterate 2.3million people.

The truth is, the actions of Israel have been inhumane. Israeli bombing has hit ambulances, refugee camps, United Nations schools and therefore there does not seem to be a safe place to evacuate to.

How many more thousands of innocent civilians need to be killed before our political leaders say enough is enough – let’s talk?

We cannot become desensitised to people dying, children harmed, families separated and loved ones pulled from rubble. 

Many of us have changed channels or stopped watching because it is so horrific, but I think it is important to expose ourselves to what is going on.

We must always think about humanity first and aspire for peace. And it is this language and approach that will keep us all safe.  

War, with all its heartbreak, death, and destruction, rarely achieves desired outcomes, and certainly not peace.

Do we not want to empower Gazans to reject Hamas, rather than the opposite?

I always try to maintain a moral compass, and the only moral outcome here is a negotiated ceasefire. 

We need significantly increased amounts of aid to be allowed into Gaza, and we need all of Hamas’ hostages to be released. That is the humanitarian position. 

Arab leaders in the region have recently come out in favour of a ceasefire. 

So, if governments in the West show the same political will, we can make the fighting stop, to show that we truly value human life. 

I continue to see the daily distress of my constituent, Noam Sagi, still dealing with the kidnap of his mother Ada by Hamas terrorists.

Every day, I try to find ways to help. We’ve been to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and many ministers. But we are blocked at every turn with no resolution.

I want nothing more than to see Noam take his mother home, and for no more families in the region to be torn apart by violence. 

Here in Brent, like across the UK, we are having to hold communities together as tensions threaten to overspill. We cannot allow any hatred or abuse to flourish, towards anyone.

I am ashamed to say that our government makes that more difficult every single day.

I will continue to hold interfaith meetings and meetings with local Jewish, Muslim and civic community leaders, who have been a beacon of hope and bravery in my constituency and beyond. 

In Parliament, however, that hope can be hard to find.

I have personally comforted MPs who are distraught, some in tears, worried about family members or constituents stuck in Gaza but still our leaders feel unable to call for a ceasefire.

We have been reminded a lot by the leaderships of both parties about the need for collective responsibility in politics, but we also have a collective responsibility to adopt positions that are morally right. 

While civilians die, this Government has shamefully not done enough to fight for peace or to stand up for international law. 

We should be united in calling for a ceasefire – everyone in Parliament, not just the 95 backbenchers should be doing all they can to speak the language of peace. It is difficult but it is also the right thing to do.  

The road to peace is never easy. 

But I remain passionate about a two-state solution. A safe, secure Israel alongside a safe, secure and internationally recognised Palestinian state. That is a cause we should all be behind.

As the opposition, Labour may not yet be able to make decisions on foreign policy, but our duty is to provide a moral lead based on the values our party was built on. 

That is why I will never give up calling for a ceasefire on both sides and a negotiated peace. 

And why you shouldn’t either.