The West has always been accused of bias in favour of Israel by Arab media and peoples. Lately some Arab governments and a considerable proportion of its people seem to have reversed their stand. While some Arabs now are not ashamed of putting the blame initially on Hamas for the murder of Palestinians by Israel’s war machines, there is another views on that issue coming for the West. In the palace of Westminster, central London, several members of UK parliament condemned Israel On Monday, 14 July 2014 for its aggressive assault on Gaza accusing Israel of committing war crimes and demanding corrective actions form their government and the international community.
Here is the text of UK MPs’ comments on Israel’s aggression on Gaza:
Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con): “Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is not just a war about rockets from both sides, and that it is a war about illegal settlements and stolen lands? What is the next big political move? I have sat here these last 30 years and heard the same statement every year; for 30 years, nothing has happened.”
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that among the 173 innocent civilians slaughtered by the Israelis in Gaza was the inhabitant of a disabled people’s home that was hit by Israel, and that a hospital was also hit? Whatever one says in deploring the role of Hamas— I have told the Hamas Prime Minister to his face that I deplore what it does—if this goes on, we shall have yet another cycle, which will be the third so far, and a fourth, and it will go on. Unless the Israelis are willing to make peace, the day will come when the Palestinians explode in anger and despair.
Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Lab): “The whole House condemns the killing of the three Israelis and the burning of the Palestinian, and none of us has any truck with Hamas. However, for all the vacuous words of the Israeli Government and the Israel defence forces spokesman, is it not clear that they have no regard for international humanitarian law; that they place a completely different and much lower value on Palestinian life than Israeli life; and that the cycle will go on as long as the international community, in an effort to be even-handed, fails to say to the Israelis that the actions that they are taking are completely outwith the United Nations charter and any idea of how a civilised nation ought to behave?”
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Given that Secretary Kerry and his own middle east Minister have clearly said that it was the Netanyahu regime’s relentless expansion of illegal settlements that bore prime responsibility for the collapse of the Kerry talks, when, instead of this routine language of condemnation about the settlements, can we instead have some real and meaningful action?
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): The Foreign Secretary is absolutely right to call for a permanent end to these intolerable rocket attacks on Israel, but right too that too many Palestinian civilians and children are dying. Will he consider whether the favourable economic and political relationship between Israel and the EU should now be reconsidered in the light of the Israeli Government’s disproportionate response to these attacks?
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary is of course correct that the latest escalation of tit-for-tat rockets and military strikes brings peace no closer; it just brings death and destruction. He may be aware that I, with other hon. Members, was in Gaza just weeks after the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead. We saw for ourselves that UN humanitarian centres had been hit by Israeli strikes. As he said, 17,000 Palestinian civilians are now sheltering in UN centres and the UN reports that 49 of them have already been damaged. As a high contracting party to the Geneva convention, what can Britain do about this, and will he confirm that hitting humanitarian centres is a war crime?
Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab): In 2010, our Prime Minister described Gaza as being like an “open-air prison”, with its people“ living under constant attacks and pressure”. he latest escalation of the violence and killing has made matters unbearable. When will our Government, working with the international community, actually apply pressure on the Israeli Government to adhere to international law and humanitarian requirements, because this is just completely unacceptable?
Fiona O’Donnell (East Lothian) (Lab): The greatest threat to Hamas, and the greatest hope for peace, is a sustainable future for Gaza and the eradication of poverty. Does the Secretary of State agree that while the Israeli blockade continues, peace cannot be achieved?
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): The tragedy of the loss of life in the whole region surely stems ultimately from the occupation of the west bank, the settlement policy, and the current siege of Gaza. What practical steps has the Foreign Secretary taken to criticise Israel for its collective punishment of the people of Gaza, the destruction of water supplies and sewage plants, and the killings of large numbers of civilians, and what sanctions does he now propose to take against Israel for acting against international law in punishing a civilian population?
Mr Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): My right hon. Friend has rightly said that the only foundation for lasting peace and a safe and secure Israel must be a viable and contiguous Palestinian state. Does he agree that there can be no peace until there is an end to the blockade of Gaza in respect of even the most basic economic materials, such as building materials, and withdrawal from the illegal settlements, which prevent any possibility of a contiguous state on the west bank?
Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): Following the question from the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood)—and while condemning the violence on both sides—I must say to the Foreign Secretary that the right to trade surely comes with the responsibility to uphold basic humanitarian principles. May I urge him to investigate the possibility of a consensus on economic sanctions within the European Union as an effective means of non-violent intervention, delivering Israel to the negotiating table for the desperately needed two-state solution?
Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): When the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson), answered the urgent question two weeks ago following the dreadful murder of the three Israeli teenagers, the Palestinian children death toll due to the conflict had reached 1,406. On Saturday it reached 1,430, including the killing of four toddlers in the course of the last week. Will the Foreign Secretary now say what he has implied: that the Israeli action is disproportionate?
Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Can the Foreign Secretary give us a bit more insight into the thinking of his Israeli counterparts? While we all accept the need for Israel to defend and deter, when he talks to the Israeli Foreign Minister does he get any sense that it must be more difficult for Israel to defend and deter if it is holding an entire people in the largest prison camp in the world in appalling conditions? Does he get any impression that common humanity calls out for peace and justice for the Palestinian people?
Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): We should not equate the occupied with the occupier. We should not equate a refugee population of 1.7 million imprisoned in a tiny strip of land with the prison guards. We should not equate terrorists firing rockets with a supposedly civilised state systematically killing women and children and elderly and disabled people. Will the Secretary of State accept that if his and other western Governments fail to discriminate between the actions of Hamas and Israel, hundreds of Palestinian civilians will continue to die and the annexation of Palestine by Israel will continue?
Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): I agree with the Foreign Secretary that what is needed is a ceasefire to provide relief to the people of Gaza and to restart the peace process. But is it not too late? In all the 17 years I have been in this House, progress towards a two-state solution has been in reverse. Just last year, the UN predicted that potable water in Gaza would run out by 2016. Palestinian officials are reporting that the Israelis are targeting water and sewerage systems. Before this latest attack, the people of Gaza were spending 30p out of every pound on safe drinking water. How will we ensure that they can live while we carry on this argument?
Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab): With half of the population in Gaza aged under 18 locked in an open prison in one of the most densely urban concentrations in the world, there was never any prospect that children would not be the disproportionate victims of this military action. Now we see tens of thousands of homes without electricity and a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation. What urgent representations can the Foreign Secretary make now to ensure that while we wait for the ceasefire, which will inevitably come, we do not see a further worsening of a catastrophic humanitarian situation?
Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (Lab/Co-op): The Foreign Secretary has already acknowledged the importance of access to water and sanitation. What assessment has he therefore made of reports that Israeli aircraft have been targeting water wells? If they have, that is a clear breach of international law.
Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Will the Foreign Secretary confirm that the actions of Israeli political and military leaders constitute war crimes?
Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): Israel’s right to defend itself, of which the Foreign Secretary speaks, is not an unconstrained right, yet Israel’s response has been unconstrained. It has been disproportionate and wrong. Heavy bombing in a densely populated area with 100,000 civilians, causing the death of 170 people, a third of them children, is not self-defence, it is barbarism. What leverage does the Foreign Secretary have and will he now apply it to make the Israeli Government reappraise this barbaric and unproductive strategy?
Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary has rightly condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas, but does he understand that his unwillingness to condemn as disproportionate the current response by the Israeli Government feeds into a view held by many of our constituents that the lives of Palestinians are not regarded equally with the lives of Israelis in this conflict and does very little to put additional pressure on the Government of Israel to act in a proportionate way when it is under attack?
Mr Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab): The air strikes, the commando raids and the rocket attacks have got to stop before any more children are killed, but may I press the Foreign Secretary on resolution 1860, on which Britain led back in 2009 and which stated that justice required “sustained and regular flow of goods and people through…crossings”. Does the Foreign Secretary not agree that without progress restoring the normality of trade, jobs and growth, we risk trapping the Palestinian people in a cycle of not only violence but despair from which there is no escape?
Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): We understand the immediate need for a ceasefire and for humanitarian aid, but we must look at the underlying causes, with Gaza under siege and 60% of the west bank now under direct military rule and a seemingly complete failure to halt the continuing expansion of the Israeli settlements. The Foreign Secretary has mentioned how difficult it is to influence Israel about the treatment of Gaza, but those settlements in the west bank are illegal, so surely more could be done there. Can he explain what more could be done to put pressure on Israel in order to deal with the way that it is behaving and therefore to bring forward the peace process?