If you have not already, please, please write/phone/email your MP urgently to let him know how concerned you are about the on-going humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Contact details can be found at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
Below are some responses from our Gloucestershire MPs to constituents’ earlier concerns. Most were received just before or during Israel’s vastly disproportionate response to Hamas’ rockets.
- NB: We have reorganised this page so the latest posts now appear first.
But first, some important questions to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown. We will let you know if and when he replies:
Dear Mr. Clifton-Brown,
As a local constituent of yours I seek your views on the current disaster in Gaza and Palestine.
As a confirmed Conservative Friend of Israel what do you think should be done to seek relief from the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza?
Do you think the government target should be a two state solution or a single democratic state of all living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean or what else?
Should UK and others offer encouragement for Jewish Israelis to move to other countries so that international law can be followed and the Palestinians return to their own land if they so chose?
Thank you so much and I hope you are enjoying the summer break even if interrupted by political events partly of the UK government’s making.’
Others may take this as an inspiration to write in a similar vein to their own MPs. If you do, please let us know.
From Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, writing in the Stroud News on 6 August 2014:
A generic reply from the Foreign Office to a member, sent on 9 August:
‘The Foreign Secretary is receiving a large volume of emails on Gaza. He regrets that he is unable to reply personally to each one.
The Foreign Secretary shares the concerns of many in the UK about the tragic loss of civilian life and has repeatedly called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. He has worked to achieve this through visits to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in recent weeks, attending talks in Cairo and Paris, and regular telephone calls to relevant parties.
A humanitarian ceasefire eases the humanitarian crisis, prevents further civilian casualties and gives time for all sides to work to find a longer term solution. This is the first step to ending the suffering of the people of Gaza and beginning to address the legitimate demands for peace and security by both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
The Foreign Secretary has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself, but has insisted that it must do so in a way that is proportionate and must take all measures to prevent unnecessary loss of civilian life. It must show that it is holding itself to the highest possible standards. Indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas and other militant groups is unacceptable and illegal. Now that Israeli Defence Forces have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, the quickest way to stop the conflict is for Hamas not to launch further rocket attacks.
The Government is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The UK has already committed more than £15m in emergency assistance to help tens of thousands of Palestinians affected.
We are providing £6m in additional assistance to help the UN Relief and Works Agency provide essential supplies to the thousands of families sheltering in schools, £3m for the World Food Programme’s emergency appeal to help deal with food shortages, and £3m for DfID’s Rapid Response Facility for Gaza, which will go to pre-approved partners with a proven ability to operate in Gaza to provide rapid and direct humanitarian assistance.
We are also bringing forward £3m in funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help them repair water infrastructure, deliver emergency medical services and protect the civilian population. We stand ready to do more, as soon as conditions on the ground allow effective relief to be delivered.
Finally, we will continue to work with international partners to secure a durable and sustainable ceasefire that will end the bloodshed and seek to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict, so that the people of Gaza and the people of Israel can live safely in peace. Only by ensuring this will we prevent further cycles of violence.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office’
From Martin Horwood, MP for Cheltenham, in a statement issued 23 July sent to several constituents by his assistant, David Fidgeon:
“I unreservedly condemn the rocket attacks on civilian neighbourhoods in Israel by whoever is sending them. But I also think the response by the Israeli government has been clearly disproportionate. It is killing far too many civilians and leading to a significant loss of life on only one side. I urge restraint and a return to ceasefire on both sides.
On the broader peace process I have already condemned Israel’s continued settlement-building programme and I don’t see the attempt to build a united Palestinian authority as good enough grounds to break off the peace process. We had to grit our teeth and talk to suspected murderers and bombers during the Irish peace process and Israelis will have to do likewise. I have also publicly urged the UK government and its European allies to look at whether there is any leverage in the favourable economic relationship between the EU and both Israel and Palestine which could be used to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.”
Richard Graham MP, Gloucester. Part of an on-going correspondent with two constituents:
On 14 July:
“ Appalling, the whole thing.
The UN (ie us) already spends millions each year already via UNRWA which was supposed to be temporary. Another invasion just means more repairs to human lives, infrastructure and buildings.
The basic issue is that Hamas does not recognise the right of Israel to exist, and their avowed aim, like Iran’s, is to destroy Israel. Until that changes the world will not deal with Hamas, including many Muslim states and Israel considers herself at war with Hamas.
I despair at the illegal settlements, the wall, the extra judicial activities of settlers, the constant military courts rulings on children stone throwing and a hundred other things done by Israel.
But as we watch Muslims fight each other, killing harmless thousands in Syria and Iraq, know the continuing Palestinian infighting – which I saw close up – we cannot say there is a clash between good and evil. It is one where very few emerge with any credit.
I’ve never been gloomier.”
And rather more succinctly, on 13 July:
” we’re all sickened by the cycle of violence in Israel as well as Iraq and Syria. I am depressed for the region. There are no good guys except the many innocent.”
And some recent contributions in Parliament
Two of our MPs took part in the debate in Parliament on Gaza held on 22 July in which the actions of Israel were overwhelmingly condemned by the vast majority of speakers.
In the debate Martin Horwood asked the Foreign Secretary:
- “Respectable democracies should not meet unacceptable attacks with unacceptable and disproportionate responses, including the bombing of mosques and hospitals, and the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Is the Secretary of State today raising with other European Governments the EU-Israel association agreement, which is supposed to be based on the shared values of respect for human rights, peace…”
While Richard Graham asked:
- “Given the rise of religious intolerance, the violence in the middle east region and the ghastly widespread human suffering in Gaza, does my right hon. Friend agree that one notable exception to religious intolerance is the role of Christians and Christianity in Gaza?”
To read these contributions in context and see the full debate, go to http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140722/debtext/14