This letter concerns Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip, codename Operation Protective Edge, which killed over 2,100 Palestinian civilians. This letter was not only addressed to my MP, but also my MEPs, and was sent via WriteToThem.
I am writing to you all today because I am deeply concerned about the UK’s ongoing support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government and the atrocities it is committing in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Netanyahu has executed a ground offensive and missile campaign (Operation Protective Edge) that has resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinian people, a majority of them civilians. OPE has also resulted in the bombing of a UN school, hospitals, and the destruction of countless homes. There are also reports of Israeli Defence Forces shooting surrendering civilians in the Gaza Strip.
David Cameron has said he “staunchly supports” the State of Israel and as a country we recently decided NOT TO VOTE on whether the UN should open an investigation into Israeli war crimes. The Prime Minister has also said that the UK will only suspend some arms exports to Israel if the fighting continues ahead of the current ceasefire.
My question to my MEPs is this: Can I count on you as my representatives to vote in the interests of the Palestinian people who are suffering to an overwhelming extent? If the opportunity presents itself, will you stand before the European Parliament and defend Palestinian civilians? Will you condemn Israeli aggression?
Sion Simon, Labour MEP: Replied after 9 days.
Israel’s military action will increase the future threats to its security rather than countering them. Israelis rightly and justifiably want that security, yet their government’s actions instead risk simply a growing a new generation bent on revenge.
Sustainable security for Israel cannot be achieved simply by permanent blockade, aerial bombardment and periodic ground incursion. Instead, it requires acknowledging the legitimate claims of Palestinians to statehood, and sustained efforts to secure a viable Palestine alongside a secure Israel.
Our government as a whole should condemn violence perpetrated by both sides in this conflict, not just by Hamas. It should be actively engaging with other EU leaders to achieve a united European position, and applying coordinated pressure on both Israel and Hamas to commit to an enduring ceasefire. The government should be working to ensure Europe engages actively with John Kerry and the Arab League to re-establish a meaningful peace process once an enduring ceasefire is achieved.
Hamas is a terrorist organisation and I utterly condemn their rocket attacks on Israel and the murder of Israeli soldiers, but that cannot excuse the scale of the loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians, including children, that we are seeing. We need to send a message to both sides that these actions are wrong and that there needs to be an immediate ceasefire and a long-term solution to this tragic conflict.
James Carver, UKIP MEP: Replied after 24 days.
Thank you for your email. The situation between Palestine and Israel is complex. It is a human tragedy to see conflict and human suffering anywhere in the many on-going conflicts throughout the world, such as in the Congo, (where 48 women an hour are raped), Libya and occupations in Western Sahara and West Papua. It is important that awareness of all conflict is raised and condemned equally.
Israel, like all other states, has the right to protect itself from aggression. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge over 1500 rockets were fired into Israel. 260 of these rocket attacks were fired from schools, 50 from hospitals, 127 from cemeteries and 160 from Mosques. The Palestinian envoy to the UN Human Rights Council observed that these attacks constitute war crimes, whether or not they hit and kill, as they are targeted deliberately at civilians (as opposed to military targeting with additional civilian casualties, as permitted under the Rome statute).
We welcome the current ceasefire, and hope that it continues. However this is not the first tentative ceasefire observed between the two sides. It is important that work continues for lasting peace after this spike in attention following Operation Protective Edge.
Neena Gill, Labour MEP: Replied after 127 days.
Thank you for writing to me about the vote on the recognition of Palestinian statehood which took place in the European Parliament this week.
The vote in favour of recognition of Palestinian statehood was supported by a large majority of the European Parliament, 498-88.
The resolution is a political rather than a legal decision but gave overwhelming support to the principle of recognition and called for all EU countries to do so.
The size of the vote also represents a push for all European countries to give coordinated support to a current bid at the UN to provide a deadline for a Palestinian state to be established.
I hope it will provide vital impetus to those who support peace on both sides of the conflict, and provide a message of hope that too many years of conflict can finally be ended.
Recognition is not an alternative to peace talks but could be a vital push to advancing them.
This resolution fully incorporates Labour’s commitment to a negotiated two state solution, with Israel safe, secure and recognised within its borders; living peacefully alongside a democratic and viable Palestinian state.
Labour MEPs will continue to promote this message in the European Parliament, by working with all groups, from all sides.
Dan Byles, Conservative MP: No reply received.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP: No reply received.
Philip Bradbourne, Conservative MEP: No reply received.
Bill Etheridge, UKIP MEP: No reply received.