I have received a large amount of correspondence from constituents about the ongoing terrible situation in Israel and Gaza. In the last week, the majority of those contacting me have been calling for the UK to push for a ceasefire and asking me to support the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech calling for a ceasefire.
We are working via all diplomatic channels - bilaterally and collectively in the region - to ensure that this conflict, which has cost so many lives already, can be brought to a halt. The loss of every innocent life is a tragedy. Ministers continue to press Israel to ensure that its campaign is targeted against Hamas leaders, militants and military infrastructure, and the UK Foreign Secretary has also called for discipline, professionalism and restraint from the Israeli military.
However, the reality is that Hamas have no interest in a ceasefire. They have no interest in resolution, have never attempted to engage in a two-state solution and have made every attempt to collapse the Oslo process. Furthermore, a unilateral and unconditional ceasefire would simply allow Hamas to entrench their position and continue their attacks. Indeed, Hamas have reiterated their intentions, stating clearly that "we will repeat the October 7 attack time and time again until Israel are annihilated".
I must therefore reiterate that Israel has the right to take action to defend itself and to recover its hostages, and the UK, while respecting that, will continue to stress the necessity of adhering to international law and taking every possible measure to protect civilians. Israel has said it will not stop military operations until hostages are free. Parliament simply calling for a ceasefire will not result in one being delivered.
The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and supports a lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike. However, Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations; it offers nothing for them other than more terror and more bloodshed. I therefore support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, deter further incursions and strengthen its security for the long term.
I welcome the recent reports of a possible pause in hostilities, with some hostages to be released. Our government will continue to provide humanitarian support in the region. We agree with the United States that Gaza should ultimately be under the control of the Palestinian Authority. We will continue to support President Abbas and his people to get to that outcome, and the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary will continue to call for the release of all hostages and for a diplomatic solution.