Date of statement: 19th October 2023
I have received multiple representations from all sides of this conflict, and I think we all know there are no easy answers here.
My approach to the situation is as follows:
- I fully support the sovereignty of the Israeli people and the right of the Israeli State to defend itself against the recent horrific acts of terrorism.
- Millions of innocent Palestinians are in an extremely vulnerable and precarious position.
- Protecting innocent people on all sides must be the top priority and any actions taken by Israel must be proportionate and in line with International Law.
I watched PMQs on Wednesday, and I thought both leaders of each Party summed up the points extremely well. I was pleased to see that, at the moment, there is a broad consensus of approach across the House which is in line with my own thoughts.
Firstly, Sir Keir Starmer set out the issues the Israelis face with a reflection, which echoes my own, on the terrorist attacks:
“The terrible news last night came as we are still mourning the terrorist attack on Israel last week, with Jews taken hostage, mutilated, slaughtered. Yesterday I met the families of some of the British hostages held by Hamas. Every minute of every hour of every day, they hope for good news but fear the worst. They know that the lives of their loved ones are in the hands of murderers. It is unimaginable agony. Israel has a right—a duty—to defend itself from Hamas, keep its people safe and bring the hostages home, but is it not clear that if Hamas had a single concern for human life, a single concern for the safety of the Palestinian people, they would never have taken these hostages, and that they should release them immediately.”
This was followed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating what the UK is doing to help with the terrible situation for the Palestinian people, I was pleased to see support being escalated. He said:
“As I said on Monday, an acute humanitarian crisis is unfolding to which we must respond. It is right that we support the Palestinian people, because they are victims of Hamas too. That is why we have provided a further £10 million in humanitarian aid for people in the region, and we are working on pre-emptively moving aid and relief teams to Egypt, specifically to the el-Arish airfield. We are working with local partners like the Egyptian Red Crescent and the United Nations, primarily, and deploying Navy assets to the region, as well as exploring how we can support logistical requirements.
“I have also raised the issue of humanitarian access, as a priority, in all my conversations with every leader in the region. We will continue to work with them to get aid to where it is needed as quickly as possible.”
You might want to keep up to date with what the Government is doing on the situation via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office