Unfortunately, I was not successful in the shuffle for today’s Westminster Hall Debate on Israel and Palestine. Here’s what I wanted to say:

Thank you. It is a pleasure to serve under your Chairmanship.

There are two dark thunderclouds hovering over us as we discuss the crisis in Israel and Palestine that led to the recent military conflict.

The first of these is antisemitism. I deplore the recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported to the Community Security Trust.

Over recent years the debates about Israeli / Palestinian relations tragically saw members of my Party resort to antisemitism, launching disgraceful attacks on Jewish people in meetings, on social media and in the press. I want to make clear antisemitism of any kind has no place in our Party. I accept the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on this matter in full. I back the Party’s action plan to tackle the scourge of antisemitism one hundred per cent and I have met with representatives of the Jewish Community in my constituency with a view to repairing past damage and renewing the trust and confidence of Jewish people in our party.

But the second cloud that hovers over us is the longstanding refusal by the international community to take meaningful action against the Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinian people.

Why should such action against a government be taken? Because the Israeli government is guilty of repeated attacks on the rights of Palestinians. It conducts systematic discrimination against them as a people. It has so far refused to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. It conducts a programme of expansion into the occupied territories through the establishment of illegal settlements and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes.

And, as the recent conflict demonstrated, its military attacks on the Palestinians are not simply a means of defending its own territorial integrity but in practice inflict lasting damage on the ability of the Palestinian people to develop the means of establishing their own state. Its air strikes and ground attacks are disproportionate to the level of threat it faces from militant groups like Hamas.

To be clear: I condemn the rocket attacks on civilian targets in Israel by Hamas for what they are. War crimes. And I mourn the deaths of the twelve Israelis because of this conflict, including two innocent children and sympathise deeply with the several hundred wounded.

I believe that the Israeli action was disproportionate and instead of laying the basis for a peaceful resolution has exacerbated the sense of injustice felt by so many Palestinians.

In the recent fighting in West Bank, there were 1,657 Palestinian injuries, including East Jerusalem, bringing the total of confirmed injuries since 10 May to 3,524, with the total of 14 dead up to the 15th of May.

In Gaza 248 people had been killed up to the 20th of May killed including 66 children. More than 1700 Palestinians have also been wounded.

An estimated 15,000 housing units sustained some degree of damage. Six high-voltage power lines providing electricity to various parts of the strip were damaged. And the Israeli air force targeted 23 buildings housing the international press and media and 91 health care facilities.

This all points to the need to curb the military excesses of the Israeli Government.

Moreover, I believe the Israeli government’s toleration of the evictions and attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, and the armed forces’  use of rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition during clashes in East Jerusalem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan were entirely over the top.

When we see such brutal repression in Hong Kong, Belarus, and Myanmar we quite rightly raise our voices in protest. We should have done the same against the actions of the Israeli government.

I welcomed the ceasefire of 21 May and I hope it holds. But we must use the ceasefire to work towards a lasting solution to this conflict that can bring peace and honour to both sides.

On the 14th of May I attended a meeting with other Labour MPs with the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK. I was impressed by his passion – not just for ending the anguish of the long-suffering Palestinian people, but for securing a just and peaceful settlement that could give both sides in the conflict hope for the future.

That hope lies in Britain taking a lead – in action not words – to open the way for a negotiated solution in which provides the right of both Israel and Palestine to exist. The actions he called for were simple.

The UK should take a lead in imposing sanctions on all companies who operate in the illegal settlements that have been established by Israel. No illegal goods should be licensed for export to the UK from these settlements.

The arms trade with Israel should end now. This is not an attack on Israel’s right to defend itself. It is a vital lever to bring a powerful military force to the negotiating table and to compel it to recognise the right of Palestine to exist.

As a means of achieving long lasting reconciliation the UK should support the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to investigate all alleged war crimes in the successive conflicts that have convulsed the region.

I would add my own call for the UK to step up its humanitarian aid for the Palestinians trapped in the rubble strewn hell that is the Gaza strip. The fourteen-year blockade of Gaza that has plunged it into poverty, misery and hunger must end now.

But most important of all the ambassador called on the UK to honour its agreement back in 2014 to immediately recognise the right to self- determination for the Palestinian people and support an end to the illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.

These actions do not punish anyone, but they do lay the basis for a peaceful solution to the crisis and I support them wholeheartedly.

Thank you.

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