In the run-up to this week’s vote, my inbox was inundated with constituents writing to highlight the killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza and urge me to back a ceasefire. In the best part of four years in Parliament, I have never received so much correspondence on an issue. I voted in favour of backing an immediate ceasefire, as I have consistently called for elsewhere. This is the best way to protect the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians under bombardment, secure the release of Israeli hostages and get desperately needed aid into Gaza.
This week’s vote was about recognising our common humanity and taking a clear stand against the killing and collective punishment of innocent people. Most of the 11,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza so far have been women and children. To put the scale of the current bombardment into perspective, Save the Children have reported that more Palestinian children were killed in the first three weeks of this conflict than were killed in the entirety of global conflicts last year.
The killing of civilians is morally indefensible. Allowing it to go unchallenged is unforgiveable. Yet this is precisely what has happened, with civilians paying the ultimate price for the failures of US, UK and European political leaders to call for peace and call out violations of international law.
It must also be restated that an enduring peace will not be achieved without addressing the root causes of the current violence. That means holding all parties responsible for violations of international law, recognising a Palestinian state and working towards a diplomatic solution based on mutual respect and equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.