Friday, 8 August 2014

Julian Huppert MP on Gaza

One of Dr Hupper's constituents has passed on a letter the LibDem MP has recently distributed:

Many of you have written to me in recent weeks about the situation in Gaza.  
I wanted to write to let you know my views on the situation and the action 
that I have taken as your MP.

Like many others, I have found the images circulated on the TV and 
newspapers deeply distressing. Israel's full frontal military campaign has 
killed huge numbers of people, mostly civilians, with the latest count 
pointing to more than 1,800 dead, and tens of thousands have been left in 
extremely precarious conditions.

The fact that 3 UN schools have been targeted by the Israeli Defence Force, 
and around a quarter of those killed have been children, only makes the 
situation even more unbearable..

It is time for the international community to do something to bring about an 
end this nightmare. We cannot sit by idly and watch more and more innocent 
people die.

I have written to Philip Hammond, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, and 
David Cameron, urging them to condemn Israel's actions. I have also asked 
them to bring about an immediate halt to all arms exported from Britain to 
Israel, and to ensure that Israel's "right to defend itself" is not used to 
justify disproportionate and retaliatory action.

I have been to Gaza and the West Bank; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There is a 
downwards cycle, where every act from one side is used to justify negative 
actions from the other side. Extremists on both sides become stronger, and 
those who want peace - and there are many of them, on both sides, find their 
case weakened.

In my view, Israel is not only acting disproportionately, it is needlessly 
provocative, deliberately building settlements on occupied land. I also 
believe that it is acting against its own long-term self-interest. I cannot 
see how a system that relies on trapping 1.8 million people can ever lead to 
success; instead it fuels resentment and violence.

To break out of this will take bold steps. We must ensure that the 
Palestinian people_s right to an independent state is upheld. Gaza must also 
be opened up, and the blockade ended, so that there is the opportunity for 
Gazans to develop a normal life, with an economy that can employ people. 
That is the way to reduce conflict and weaken Hamas - to offer people the 
chance of a different life. Israel does not let that happen.

When I went to Gaza four years ago, I met a Gazan woman who'd been given 
permission to travel to Israel to meet an old colleague, an Israeli woman, 
and take her young daughter with her. Her daughter met her friend, and asked 
where she was from. When her mother's friend told her, she said: "That can't 
be right. Israelis are soldiers who wear masks and carry guns".

If Israel and Palestine are ever to live in peace with one another, 
preconceptions such as these must be challenged. But for this to happen, we 
need a change in approach from everyone. Crucially, Israel must pave the way 
for a Palestinian independent state, and extremism on both sides will have 
to be rejected in favour of genuine dialogue and reconciliation. Otherwise, 
violence and instability will continue to plague the region, blighting the 
lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Best wishes


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