Many constituents have contacted me in the past few days appalled at the dramatic escalation of violence and resulting deaths of civilians including women and children. They have also expressed their shock and dismay at the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.
I too am deeply concerned about the situation and the fact that this has occurred during the holy month of Ramadan. The Government must condemn in the strongest possible terms the air strikes by Israel on Gaza which have to date killed 48 Palestinian civilians including 14 children and the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas that have killed 6 Israeli civilians.
One of the key reasons that tensions flared in the first place is because of the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. For years, right-wing Jewish settler organisations have been taking action to evict Palestinians from their homes based on planning laws which discriminate against Palestinians. This is not a simple property dispute. Nor is it a legal, real-estate issue, as has been presented by the Israeli Government.
Under international law, East Jerusalem was illegally occupied and annexed by Israel in 1967. The decision by the Israeli Government to advance the construction of settlements in and around East Jerusalem, and in other parts of the occupied West Bank, is not only a violation of international law; these settlements have entrenched divisions and seriously undermine the prospects for a viable Palestinian state which the UK Government is committed to.
The Labour Party believes that there must be a negotiated two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which ensures a safe and secure Israel, alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. But the creation of these ‘facts on the ground’ makes the prospect of a two-state solution look increasingly unviable. Our Government must do more than issue empty statements. It must make it clear to the Israeli Government that a failure to obey international law, when it comes to the occupation, expansion of settlements or evictions and dispossession – will result in real consequences.
I would appreciate a reply at your earliest convenience.