Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Israel and Palestine

Any conflict and loss of life is deeply regrettable. The loss of 2000 lives of any country is a cause for deep concern.

However, I recognise and respect Israel’s right to exist in peace and to defend its own people. Regrettably at times defence of your own people can lead to loss of life from the aggressors. It is clear to me, that while I would not necessarily defend every action taken by Israel, whose response at times does appear to have been disproportionate, the main aggressors do seem to be Hamas who regularly seek to fire rockets into the Israeli settlements.

An assessment of whether Israeli actions in Gaza complied with international law and its obligations under the Geneva Conventions requires an investigation on the ground. The United Nations Human Rights Council has set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip since the conflict began on 13 June 2014. The UK Government supports a balanced and independent inquiry.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a longstanding, complex and deep rooted issue. I do not believe there are any easy answers. My general position is that all parties need to work towards a lasting peace whereby Jews and Arabs, Israel and Palestine, along with the other nations in the Middle East, are able to exist peaceably and respect each the other. Other, far greater men and women than me, have sought over many years to achieve this. Sadly to date it often appears to be 1 step forward, one step back. But we should not give up. We should continue to do all we can to bring about a lasting peace. I believe this should include supporting Israel’s right to defend itself but also being prepared, when necessary to criticise and challenge.

Additionally we should do all we can to support the Palestinians who are largely the innocent victims of this conflict, through humanitarian aid.

I hope this  gives you a picture of my position. I do not in any way claim to be an expert of this major issue but I have sought to answer in an straight-forward and open way.