The UK is working using 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 an end.
The reality is that Hamas have no interest in a ceasefire. They have no interest in resolution, they have never attempted to engage in a two-state solution and have made every attempt to collapse the Oslo process.
On the 7th of October, Hamas terrorists slaughtered 1400 innocent Israelis. They raped them, murdered them, butchered them, and burned them alive. When did society start to accept these heinous criminal acts as an acceptable reaction to the ongoing situation in Israel and Palestine? Why do so many dismiss or sometimes glorify these crimes? What would those same people say if these abhorrent acts happened on the streets of the UK?
The terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas are heinous and unprecedented, and I support Israel’s right to defend itself proportionately as guaranteed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The UK recognises that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, and has made it absolutely clear to the Israeli Government that its military operations must be conducted in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. Civilians must be respected and protected. I know that both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have emphasised the importance of taking all possible measures to protect innocent civilians in their discussions with their Israeli counterparts.
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”. Israel has the right to take action to defend itself and to recover its hostages, and the UK, while respecting that, will continue to encourage Israel to adhere to international law and protect civilians.
I have visited the Middle East, Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel on numerous occasions. I visited Jordan last week where I met His Majesty King Abdullah and discussed the ongoing situation. I am due to be in the Middle East again this weekend. We are all working to bring this conflict to an end, but allowing a murderous terrorist regime time to regroup while they hold Israeli women and children cannot be acceptable to anyone.
For these reasons I will not back a ceasefire.