The horrific scenes of suffering and death of innocent civilians in Gaza and Israel are shocking and distressing. I understand the instinctive calls for a ceasefire because we all want the killing and the suffering to stop. And we all want to see the immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas.
Yesterday, Hamas reiterated its intention to continue to hold the hostages and to prosecute its war on Israel. In these current circumstances, the only credible approach that has any chance of achieving what we all want to see in Gaza – the urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering – are humanitarian pauses to allow food, water, electricity, medicines and fuel in and people out.
I am appalled by the civilian deaths at the Jabalia refugee camp. Our position has always been and continues to be that Israel must submit to the rules of international law. We must recognise that Israel was subject to an unimaginable terrorist attack. They have the right to go after the terrorists who carried out the attacks and get their hostages back but this is not a blank cheque.
We need a political solution to this conflict and I repeat Keir Starmer’s words earlier this week on what is needed to achieve that:
“A renewed push, from all parties, to find a way to peace. It will mean engaging with our Arab partners, working urgently on viable plans for a Palestine free from the terrorism of Hamas. It will mean engaging with Israel, seeking to address its security concerns in the future but showing clearly that the settlement building is unacceptable, unlawful and has to stop.
The Palestinian people need to know there is a genuine will and determination from Israel, from Arab states, from the West to finally address their plight in deeds as well as words. Because the Palestinian claim to statehood is not in the gift of a neighbour. It is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the clear logic of any call for a two-state solution.”