Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Middle East Conflict

The terrible news of the blast at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on 17th October came as we are still mourning the terrorist attack on Israel on 7th October; Jews mutilated, slaughtered and taken hostage. Every minute of every hour of every day their families hope for good news but fear the worst. They know the lives of their loved ones are in the hands of murderers. It’s unimaginable agony. Israel has a right, a duty, to defend itself from Hamas, keep its people safe and bring hostages home. And it is clear that if Hamas had a single concern for human life, a single concern for the safety of the Palestinian people, then they would never have taken these hostages, and they should release them immediately.

We have heard accounts on the media, including from charities working in Gaza, of the harrowing humanitarian crisis now occurring; children fleeing their homes and hospitals unable to function. The lights are going out and the innocent civilians of Gaza are terrified that they will die in the darkness, out of sight. International law must always be followed. Hamas are not the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people are not Hamas. Sufficient medicines, food, fuel and water must get into Gaza immediately. This is an urgent situation and innocent Palestinians need to know that the world isn’t simply watching but acting to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Since Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, the UK has seen a disgusting rise in antisemitism; Jewish businesses attacked, Jewish schools daubed with red paint and Jewish families hiding who they are. And we’ve seen an appalling surge in islamophobia with racist graffiti, mosques forced to ramp up security and British Muslims and Palestinians spoken to as if they were terrorists. Every British Jew and every British Muslim has the right to live their life free from fear and free from discrimination here in their own country.

We must have grave concern that this conflict will escalate in the Middle East, where there has been too much bloodshed and darkness for too long. A two-state solution, a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, feels more distant than ever but it remains the only way through. We must work our hardest to ensure that the voices of division and despair are side-lined and that, however difficult it seems, the hope of a political path to peace is maintained.

This is a crisis where lives hang in the balance and when the enemies of peace and democracy would like nothing more than for us to become divided and to abandon our values. During this grave crisis, the UK must strive to speak with one voice in condemnation of terror, in support of Israel’s right to self-defence, and for the dignity of all human life, which cannot be protected without humanitarian access to those suffering in Gaza and the constant maintenance of the rule of international law.


published this page in Current News 2023-10-31 17:17:41 +0000

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