The narrative below explains my position, but to be clear: I want to ensure that this conflict, which has cost so many lives already, can be brought to a halt.
Recent acts of extreme violence in Israel have raised concerns about the tactics employed by Hamas, and the question of how Israel should respond is not easy. Hamas leaders have publicly stated that "...we will repeat the October 7th attack time and time again until Israel is annihilated." As a result, Israel has concluded that Hamas does not want to end the conflict and that it would not keep to a ceasefire, even if it were agreed.
The loss of every innocent life is a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the 240 hostages taken by Hamas and their families, the families of the 1,400 butchered by Hamas on October 7th, and the many innocent Palestinian lives who are going through unimaginable suffering.
The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and supports a lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike. However, Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations, especially as Hamas has enmeshed itself behind the civilian population of Gaza, using them as shields; Hamas confirms that it only offers terror and more bloodshed.
Israel, in its pursuit of security and stability, has sought to respond to these threats. A proportionate response in this context is a challenging concept, but it is right to differentiate between the actions of terrorist organizations and the broader Palestinian population, who often bear the brunt of the conflict.
To say that the situation is complex as well as tragic is an understatement. The path to a proportionate response is obviously not straightforward and civilians will always be casualties of any war. Balancing the need for self-defence with the need to protect civilians is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve.
The path to a lasting resolution is challenging, some might say impossible. But if there is to be one, it will have to be through dialogue, diplomacy, and international cooperation so that a just and peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians can be achieved. The alternative will only ever be a self-perpetuating violent action followed by a violent reaction.
The UK Prime Minister continues to call on the Israeli Government to act in line with international humanitarian law and to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians. The Foreign Office has also called for discipline, professionalism, and restraint from the Israeli military. The UK is always at the forefront at providing aid during this type of crises.
We are all engaging extensively with international counterparts, to prevent a further escalation of this devastating conflict. I am personally of the view that the many Arab nations in the region hold the solution to this conflict. They should play a greater role. It was very telling that Egypt did not open its border to a neighbouring Arab nation in need.
I am constantly following this fast-moving situation, always calling on the Government to use every tool of diplomacy to sustain the prospects of a two-state solution, and ultimately peace and stability in the region.
However, the deep-rooted political, social, and historical complexities in the region make lasting peace a very challenging goal, but I will always stand up for basic human rights wherever any abuse of these may be taking place – as I always have done.
Marco Longhi MP