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Ceasefire in Palestine

Volume 744: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2024

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the only and quickest route to lasting peace in Palestine is for all sides to support and adhere to full ceasefire; condemns violence against people for simply being Israeli, equally condemns violence against people simply for being Palestinian; mourns the growing death toll of women, men and children and grieves for the thousands more traumatised by what they have witnessed and experienced.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to add its voice to international calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire so that aid can continue to reach Palestinians; bombed out homes, universities and hospitals in Palestine can be rebuilt and the process to finding last peace with a two state solution can begin.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Anne McLaughlin, Official Report, 29 November 2023; Vol. 741, c. 1020.]


Observations from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office:

The UK supports a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, with an end to the destruction, the release of hostages and no return to hostilities, creating a deliverable political horizon to a two-state solution.

No one wants to see this conflict go on a moment longer than necessary, and an immediate pause is now necessary to get aid in and hostages out. The situation is desperate.

Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, in accordance with international humanitarian law and its obligations in Gaza and across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The best outcome will be moving from that pause to a sustainable ceasefire without a return to hostilities. Of course, a sustainable, permanent ceasefire—with an end to the destruction, fighting and loss of life, the release of hostages and no resumption of hostilities—would be the best way forward. To achieve that, a number of things would need to happen:

Hamas would have to agree to the release of all hostages

Hamas would no longer be in charge of Gaza—and the threat from Hamas terror and rocket attacks would have to end.

Agreement in place for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza in order to provide governance and services and, increasingly, security.

There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza; the current levels are woefully inadequate and are deepening the humanitarian crisis. Israel must take steps, working with other partners including the UN and Egypt, to significantly increase the flow of aid into Gaza, including allowing prolonged humanitarian pauses, opening more routes into Gaza, and restoring and sustaining water, fuel and electricity supplies.

Israel must also take the following steps:

Ensure effective systems to guarantee the safety of aid convoys, humanitarian operations and IDP returns, and facilitate access.

Ensure the UN has the people, vehicles and equipment to distribute aid safely across Gaza. This includes issuing visas.

Extend the opening hours and capacity of the Nitzana screening facility and the Kerem Shalom checkpoint so more trucks, aid and fuel can enter Gaza.

Open the Kerem Shalom crossing seven days a week.

Remove restrictions to ensure greater consistency on the goods allowed in.

Allow unencumbered access to aid coming from Jordan.

Open Ashdod port as a route for aid to reach Gaza.

Open the Erez crossing to allow direct access to the north of Gaza.

Restore water, fuel and electricity connections.

We have trebled our aid commitment this financial year to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the UK is doing everything it can to get more aid in and open more crossings. We played a leading role in securing the passage of Security Council resolution 2720, which set out the urgent demand for expanded humanitarian access in Gaza. We have also supported the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver a new humanitarian land corridor from Jordan into Gaza. Seven hundred and fifty metric tonnes of lifesaving food aid arrived in the first delivery in December and a second delivery of 315 tonnes was made in January 2024. The first UK maritime shipment of aid for Gaza arrived into Egypt on 3 January, carrying 87 tonnes of lifesaving UK and Cypriot aid for the people of Gaza, delivered by Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship Lyme Bay, in addition to 74 tonnes of aid previously delivered.

The Foreign Secretary and I continue to discuss and press for the action that needs to be taken to increase aid to Gaza in regular calls with our Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian, Lebanese, US and Palestinian Authority counterparts, recently with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz to raise the urgent need for increased aid to Gaza. The Foreign Secretary has also appointed his representative for humanitarian affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Mark Bryson-Richardson. He is based in the region and is working intensively to address the blockages preventing more aid reaching Gaza.

We remain deeply concerned about the impact of the conflict on the civilian population in Gaza. There must be a reduction in civilian casualties. Israel must act within international humanitarian law and protect civilians.

We are clear that for a peaceful solution, four things must happen—there must be a Palestinian-led Government in Gaza and the West Bank, a concrete plan to help reform and support the Palestinian Authority, a massive reconstruction plan for Gaza and a political horizon towards delivering a two-state solution. This will provide a safe and secure Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state across the Occupied Palestinian Territories—the west bank and Gaza—based on 1967 borders and agreed land swaps. The Foreign Secretary and I are fully engaged and committed to working with allies and regional partners in pursuit of this vital objective.