13 May 2024
The situation in Gaza Update

A significant number of my constituents have written to me about various aspects of the ongoing situation in Gaza. I am aware that this provokes strong feelings on both sides.

A tragedy is unfolding in the Middle East. Israel suffered the worst terror attack in its history at the hands of Hamas, and Palestinian civilians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

The UK Government is driving diplomatic efforts to achieve an immediate humanitarian pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life.

These are several vital steps that we need to see, including the release of all hostages; the formation of a new Palestinian Government for the West Bank and Gaza, accompanied by an international support package; removing Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks against Israel; Hamas no longer being in charge of Gaza; and a political horizon which provides a credible and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution. In coalition with our allies we need to work towards a long-term two-state solution which should be accompanied by a ceasefire to enable both sides to reflect on how best to bring this about. This is the only sustainable way that both sides can live in peace in the longer term. The international community will also need to make a massive effort to deliver a reconstruction plan for Gaza.

There must be a reduction in civilian casualties and we should continue to impress on both sides that it is absolutely imperative that they comply with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). I agree with the Government that we want to see Israel take greater care to limit its operations to military targets and do its utmost to avoid harming civilians and destroying homes. 

As I said in Parliament recently, there is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. We should explore every avenue possible to give the people of Gaza as much aid as we can realistically provide to alleviate the dreadful suffering. The Government is getting on with aid delivery, funding multiple implementing partners including other UN agencies and international and UK NGOs. This support is helping people in Gaza get fuel, food, water, shelter and medicines.

The commitment to trebling aid to Gaza still stands and the UK is providing £60 million in humanitarian assistance to support partners including the British Red Cross, UNICEF, the UN World Food Programme and Egyptian Red Crescent Society to respond to critical food, fuel, water, health, shelter and security needs in Gaza.

I am glad that more aid is beginning to flow into Gaza, but still not nearly enough to deal with the scale of the problem. 

Israel must also take steps, working with other partners including the UN and Egypt, to significantly increase the flow of life saving aid into Gaza including allowing prolonged humanitarian pauses, opening more routes into Gaza and restoring and sustaining water, fuel and electricity.

Earlier last week I took the opportunity to raise my concerns in the House and called for more aid access to Gaza. You can see the full details of the question and answer from the Deputy Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP on the link below.


(Arms exports) - 

Regarding the specific issue you raise of arms exports to Israel, I am aware that the UK Government takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available.

Licence decisions take account of prevailing circumstances at the time of application and include human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Export Control Joint Unit will not issue an export licence to any destination where to do so would be inconsistent with the Criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law.

The Government is monitoring the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories very closely, and it will take any action that the Government considers appropriate as the situation develops. The Export Control Joint Unit has in place an established process for responding, at pace, to changing conditions in a country where the UK has previously granted export licences and where those licences remain in place. All extant licences are kept under careful review.

Please be assured that I take a close interest in this subject and I will continue to do so until peace on both sides exists.