Statement on this evenings vote regarding Israel and Palestine
"This evening’s vote on the amendments laid by the SNP calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Palestine is one of the most difficult votes that I have faced during my time as an MP.
The loss of civilian lives in Israel on 7th October from Hamas’s terror attack, and since then in Gaza, is beyond horror. Like the many constituents that have written to me, I want this bloodshed – especially that of so many innocent civilians – to stop.
As I said in the days immediately after 7th October, terrorism is rarely beaten by further terror. Furthermore, the greater the loss of civilian life, the higher the risk of further radicalisation which risks perpetuating conflict and violence.
A permanent ceasefire requires all parties to agree to stop hostilities. Hamas has made it clear that they will not stop and will continue to launch October 7th style attacks until “the population of Israel is annihilated”. That clearly must not, and never will, happen.
Israel has said it will not stop military operations until hostages are free. Therefore, it is unlikely that the UK Parliament calling for a ceasefire would result in one being delivered.
However, if Parliament votes against this ceasefire amendment tonight, we must be clear that this is only because we cannot accede to Hamas’ demands.
This must not be read as giving Israel a moral and legal blank cheque to continue operating in the manner it has done so for the past 43 days. I made this point in the House of Commons Chamber this afternoon and every MP I have spoken to today agrees with this. Furthermore, continuing to act in a way that results in so many civilian deaths risks being in breach of international law. No nation can be exempt from the rule of law.
Pauses/ temporary ceasefires/ suspensions are urgently required for humanitarian purposes. I support the calls for these.
In Parliament yesterday, the UK Minister reiterated his call that Israel must take measures to minimise civilian casualties, should limit attacks to military targets and that they must also stop extremist settler violence in the West Bank.
In my opinion, there need to be much stronger measures to protect civilian lives than have been seen to date. Israel has some of the most sophisticated precision targeting capability in the world. We need a demonstration that this is being deployed in line with international law. I believe Israel should cease the aerial bombardment of all targets where there are likely to be civilians.
Hamas has shown throughout that it has little care for civilian lives, both in Israel and in Gaza where they have used human shields. However, I urge those with influence in the region to exert all effort and influence to get Hamas to urgently release all civilian hostages."