We are deeply concerned at the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Foreign Secretary on the situation in Gaza.
We share his deep concern for the tragic loss of life of innocent Palestinians living in Gaza. But it is not credible to suggest that the situation can be resolved simply by calling for a cease fire, when over recent weeks Hamas has brazenly breached six ceasefires, each accepted and observed by Israel, and abused them to perpetrate further attacks.
Similarly the assertion that Israel is entitled to engage in aerial attacks on Gaza but not a ground incursion is not credible. Israel could simply not have left scores of deeply-dug attack tunnels unchallenged, waiting for the time when Hamas might choose to activate them – reportedly a mass casualty infiltration into Israel planned for the Jewish New Year. We are sure that it can not be Mr Milliband’s contention that this deeply embedded infrastructure should be attacked solely from the air. An approach like this, while similar to that adopted by other western militaries, would require the use of far greater ordnance and result in significantly greater risk for the people of Gaza.
Finally, an honest assessment of the situation would recognise the responsibility of the international community for the tragic state of Gaza. The aggressive militarization and arming of Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 has taken place in clear violation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreements, while the provisions of the United Nations Security Council resolution, spearheaded by the last Labour government, to prevent the trafficking of weapons to Gaza, have been entirely unfulfilled.
Political leaders in the United Kingdom have an important role to play in bringing about a sustained end to the current violence and a demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. This is a critical issue and we hope that such an important matter will not be used to create domestic political points of difference.