Over the past few weeks, I have received over a thousand emails and correspondence from constituents in Slough, who have anxieties about the violence and hostilities in Palestine and Israel.
Having personally visited both places recently and seen the situation on the ground, I am now deeply concerned about the situation in East Jerusalem. The forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah must stop and I condemn attempts by Israeli settlers to forcibly take control of Palestinian homes. East Jerusalem has been illegally annexed – Israel is the occupying power, which creates obligations that the Israeli Government is not meeting. Israel must comply with international law.
I believe the UK Government should make urgent representations to the Israeli Government to halt all evictions in East Jerusalem, change planning laws that discriminate against Palestinians and immediately suspend the construction of all other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. We cannot allow actions which will set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East to go unaddressed.
I was also very shocked to see the violence used against worshippers gathered during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque – this was totally unacceptable. It is essential that holy sites are respected.
Reports that Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed multiple civilians, including children, are shocking and appalling. Along with the rocket attacks launched by Hamas, I strongly condemn all actions that endanger civilians.
I am pleased that a ceasefire has recently been agreed between Hamas and Israel. It is vital that this agreement is honoured. There is no military solution to this conflict and I believe the root causes of the violence should now be addressed. This must include an end to the forced eviction of Palestinians in East Jerusalem; respect for sacred sites; and adherence to international law on settlements.
I know this issue is one of great concern to many in Slough and therefore I’ve raised it in Parliament on several occasions, in the form of a letter to the Prime Minister, as well as Parliamentary Questions.
Going forward, I believe there must be a renewed focus on negotiating a two-state solution, which ensures a safe and secure Israel, alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine. A good start would have been the official recognition of the state of Palestine by the UK, as the likes of me and the British Parliament have demanded now for years, and as nearly 140 other countries have already done, but I’m highly disappointed that this Conservative Government continues to deny official recognition to the stricken Palestinians.