I continue to receive a large amount of correspondence from constituents about the ongoing terrible situation in Israel and Gaza and asking the UK Government to continue to support all those in the region whose lives have been so badly affected.
In the last week, the majority of those contacting me have been calling for the UK to push for a ceasefire. I know the UK is working via all diplomatic channels - bilaterally and collectively in the region - to ensure that this conflict, which has cost so many lives already, can be brought to a halt. The loss of every innocent life is a tragedy, and while acknowledging that Hamas has enmeshed itself amidst the civilian population of Gaza, the UK Government has called on and will continue to call on Israel to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.
However, the reality is that Hamas have no interest in a ceasefire. They have no interest in resolution, have never attempted to engage in a two-state solution and have made every attempt to collapse the Oslo process. Furthermore, a unilateral and unconditional ceasefire would simply allow Hamas to entrench their position and continue their attacks. Indeed, Hamas have reiterated their intentions, stating clearly that "we will repeat the October 7 attack time and time again until Israel are annihilated".
I must therefore reiterate that Israel has the right to take action to defend itself and to recover its hostages, and the UK, while respecting that, will continue to stress the necessity of adhering to international law and taking every possible measure to protect civilians.
For the above reasons, I voted against amendment (h) on 15 November.
The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is deeply troubling, and I welcome the extensive efforts the Government is making to ensure that vital aid reaches the Palestinian people. Since 7 October, the UK has made available £30 million of additional aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, more than doubling our existing aid commitment for this year (£27 million). I have also been assured that the UK will consider further support depending on changing humanitarian needs on the ground.
Funding alone is not enough, and work is ongoing with international partners to increase the flow of aid into Gaza. While the opening of the Rafah border crossing is a major step forward, the UK has confirmed that it will continue to work with Egypt, Israel and other international partners to try and increase the flow of support. The UK has also been clear that it recognises the need for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid safely and in a sustained way, a point agreed with G7 partners in Tokyo on 8 November.