Mark Eastwood MP Statement on Israel/Palestine:
The events unfolding in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) are truly horrific. Israel has suffered the most horrendous terror attack in its history at the hands of Hamas, and Palestinian civilians in Gaza are experiencing a humanitarian disaster. My thoughts are with all those affected.
The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and supports a lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike. However, Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations; it offers nothing for them other than more terror and more bloodshed. I therefore support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, deter further incursions and strengthen its security for the long term.
However, the loss of every innocent life is a tragedy, and the UK Government has repeatedly stressed that Israel must take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties, in line with international humanitarian law. Ministers continue to press Israel to ensure that its campaign is targeted against Hamas leaders, militants and military infrastructure, and the outgoing UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has also called for discipline, professionalism and restraint from the Israeli military. At the start of the conflict I personally met with James Cleverly to relay these concerns on behalf of the many constituents who have contacted me.
The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is deeply troubling, and I welcome the extensive efforts the Government is making to ensure that vital aid reaches the Palestinian people. Since 7 October, the UK has made available £30 million of additional aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, more than doubling our existing aid commitment for this year (£27 million). I have also been assured that the UK will consider further support depending on changing humanitarian needs on the ground.
Funding alone is not enough, and work is ongoing with international partners to increase the flow of aid into Gaza. While the opening of the Rafah border crossing is a major step forward, the UK has confirmed that it will continue to work with Egypt, Israel and other international partners to try and increase the flow of support. The UK has also been clear that it recognises the need for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid safely and in a sustained way, a point agreed with G7 partners in Tokyo on 8 November.