I have been contacted by many constituents over the past months who have expressed their concerns about the terrible war between Israel and Hamas. Large numbers of Palestinians are suffering in Gaza and we must do all we can to bring an end to this awful conflict. The Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, has been clear about the need to get aid into Gaza and end the bloodshed.

This terrible conflict that has claimed too many lives and caused misery for so many people in Gaza, we all want it to stop.

We cannot forget about the horrific terrorist attacks that happened on the 7th of October. Months on from those attacks hundreds of innocent Israelis and foreign nationals are still being held hostage by a barbaric terrorist organisation who brutally raped and butchered innocent women and children, and massacred hundreds more in Israel, including young people enjoying a music festival. Too many people have failed to acknowledge those atrocities and some even claim it was acceptable.

I have said from the beginning of this conflict that Israel has the right to defend itself from further attacks by Hamas and retrieve the hostages who have been taken from their families and held for months against their will.

I am not taking a side, I have seen the evidence, I work with the facts I have in front of me. If we take one side and ignore the other there will never be progress in Palestine, Israel, and the wider Middle East.

Ultimately a ceasefire has to be honoured by both sides. A pause in hostilities invariably leads to another pause, it isn’t semantics, words are important. Calling for a ceasefire, while worthy, doesn’t address the long-term issues. It doesn’t bring the hostages home and it doesn’t bring about a Palestinian State or allow Israelis to live in peace and security.

I am becoming more optimistic that a ceasefire is on the horizon, but it is important to understand that a sustainable long-lasting ceasefire that doesn’t erupt into more violence can only be brought about if both sides agree to it. There are two sides to this conflict, and Hamas must release the hostages and Israel must show restraint and professionalism with its military operations and adhere to International Humanitarian Law.

The UK Government is calling for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life. The UK’s position on this conflict has been longstanding, and I agree that there is a need to get more aid and humanitarian assistance into Gaza, the commitment to trebling aid to Gaza still stands and the UK is helping refugees sheltering in Gaza and working to open more channels for lifesaving aid.

Since the beginning of the conflict, I travelled extensively in the Middle East, met with leaders and officials of Middle Eastern countries, and discussed the situation with Ambassadors, Officials, and my colleagues in Government. I have travelled to Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. I have just returned from Saudi Arabia and Egypt where I held extensive talks about the crisis.

We are all working to bring this conflict to an end, assist those who are suffering in Gaza, and try and bring peace to the wider region. It is however, a very complicated picture.

Royston