I am shocked and appalled by the violence that we have seen on the Israel-Gaza border. The loss of life and the large number of Palestinians injured is tragic and extremely worrying.
Many constituents have written to me about the Palestinians murdered and wounded in the most recent protests in Gaza. I have also had a large number from constituents who take the opposite view.
I think the use of live ammunition by the Israel Defence Forces must always be a measure of last resort and used in line with international law. There is no justification for shooting unarmed civilians behind the border of Israel, inside Gaza. The Israeli Government’s response to legitimate protest by Palestinians was completely wrong. I welcome the condemnation of this action by world leaders and I join others in the call for an independent inquiry into the deaths and circumstances of the deaths. It is clear that they acted disproportionately, unnecessarily, and unlawfully.
There is a clear need to establish the facts around these events. I therefore back the UN Secretary General's calls for an independent and transparent investigation. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation which must urgently determine whether international law has been broken so that any parties found to have done so can be held to account.
I believe the UK should also review the sale of arms that could be used in violation of international law in light of the events in Gaza.
Terrible incidents such as these remind us of the pressing need to work towards the two-state solution that we all want to see: a secure Israel living in peace alongside a viable state of Palestine and an end to the senseless cycle of violence.
This will require both sides - and the international community as a whole - to come together as a matter of urgency. It will also require both sides avoiding actions that put the two-state solution at risk and make peace harder to achieve. That must mean an end to the blockade of Gaza and Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories. It must also mean an end to terror attacks and incitement.
There was an urgent parliamentary question on the tragedy and you can see the debate here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/ac3cf88f-3a45-457b-81db-b9376d996dd5?in=12:43:01&out=14:20:21
I made an intervention in the debate to ask about the UN and what the UK Government were doing to uphold the UN Resolutions that should be preventing settlement building. You can see this here: https://www.facebook.com/IanMurrayMP/videos/1717905301659937/
Additionally, the decision of the President of the United States to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has poured fuel on the already raging fire of conflict between the countries of the Middle East. Donald Trump’s reckless and ill-judged decision also flies in the face of decades of historical convention that ensured respect was given to the claims on Jerusalem of both Israelis and Palestinians. America’s foolish gesture, coupled with Netanyahu’s totally outrageous and aggressive actions, has created yet more obstacles to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
I firmly believe that the only way towards achieving lasting peace in the Middle East is by bringing the differing sides together at the negotiating table. I fear President Trump’s foreign policies and this most recent confrontation between Israeli forces and Palestinians will set back the possibility of achieving that peace even further. The roadmap to the commencement of talks is not clear and the international community must do all it can to bring a process together. However, that will take leadership and bravery from both sides. I’ve met many Palestinians who say they are willing to die for their country. However, we need a find a way to provide hope so that they are willing to live for their country.
Lastly, the UK Parliament approved a motion back in 2013 to recognise Palestine as a state. It would be an act of goodwill if the UK Government approved this and formally recognised Palestine as a state. That would send out a strong message of support and provide a foundation for trying to engage in peace negotiations.
I follow the situation in Gaza closely. I will also continue to press the Government to take whatever steps it can to bring about an immediate return to meaningful negotiations towards a wider diplomatic resolution.