LABOUR POLITICIANS CALL FOR ACTION OVER GAZA

Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East have sent a letter to Foreign Secretary David Miliband calling for action to stop the killing of civilians in Gaza. I am among the 53 signatories, who include Labour MPs, MEPs, peers and members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London Assembly.

Dear David

Re: Gaza crisis

Three hundred people have lost their lives in Gaza over the last three days. In any conflict and any battle in today’s world such a wide scale loss of life would be met with deep despair and a sense of failure.

We are writing together with the new organisation Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East to thank you for your clear statement that the number of lives lost in Gaza over the last few days is unacceptable. We fully support your call for a cessation of violence and ask that you also make a statement as soon as Parliament resumes. We will be calling for an urgent debate, which I hope you will support, to enable the voice of the House of Commons to be heard.

The Israeli Defence Force has entered Gaza with extreme force and without apparent concern or apology for the loss of civilian life. We urge you to endorse the statement by the UN Secretary General that the Israeli government’s actions are “excessive”. On Monday the UN estimated the number of deaths at 320, of whom 62 were women and children, against two deaths on the Israeli side. More recent estimates have put the death toll at 347 with more than 800 wounded.

This development is deeply concerning both in itself and in the longer term. We believe that there can be no military solution and would further suggest that excessive military force of this kind is bound to be counterproductive and will inevitably sharpen the sense of injustice in the region.

The conflict in Gaza should not be seen in isolation. We are concerned by the continuing expansion of settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem , by the confiscation of Palestinian land, by the proliferation of checkpoints and by other restrictions on Palestinian movement. In relative terms, the West Bank is peaceful at present, but further tensıons are being stoked up which could foreseeable overspill into violence.

As we enter this bleak period, probably the most dangerous since 1967, we ask you to continue to send a clear signal from this country that excessive military force is counterproductive and will not resolve the conflict. We also ask you to do all in your power to bring about an immediate ceasefire and to ensure that humanitarian aid is urgently allowed into Gaza. As a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Convention we also ask you to ensure that the UK takes a leading role in requiring international law to be upheld.

Yours sincerely

Martin Linton MP, Chair, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
Rıchard Burden MP, Chair of Policy Committee, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
Phyllis Starkey MP, Vice-chair, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
Janet Anderson MP
Roger Berry MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Frank Cook MP
Michael Connarty MP
David Drew MP
Paul Flynn MP
Hywel Francis MP
Roger Godsiff MP
Nia Griffith MP
Peter Kilfoyle MP
Mark Lazarowicz MP
Tom Levitt MP
Judy Mallaber MP
Christine McCafferty MP
Andrew MacKinlay MP
Nick Palmer MP
Jim Sheridan MP
Andrew Slaughter MP
Dr Howard Stoke MP
David Taylor MP
Joan Walley MP
Mike Wood MP
Jim Dobbin MP
Peter Soulsby MP
Lyn Brown MP
Brian Iddon MP
Jim Devine MP
Hywel Francis MP
John MacDonnell MP
Neil Gerrard MP
Lord David Lipsey
Baroness Brenda Dean
Lord Andrew McIntosh
Baroness Rosalie Wilkins
Richard Simpson MSP
Frank McAveety MSP
Marlyn Glen MSP
Alan Davies Welsh AM
Murad Qureshi GLA
John Biggs GLA
John Austin MP
Christine Chapman AM
Eric Ittsley MP
Rob Morris MP
Baroness Anne Gibson
Harry Cohen MP
David Chaytor MP
Lord Alf Dubs
Virendra Sharma MP
Sara Linton, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East (Acting Secretary)
Michelle Harris, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
Mark McDonald, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East