I have been deeply concerned by the appalling loss of life and horrific scale of the conflict in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
Although Parliament has been in recess I wanted to do what I could as the Member of Parliament for Northampton North to represent the views of many of my constituents who feel strongly about what is happening, and associate myself with those deep concerns about the plight of innocent civilians caught up in this latest conflagration in the Middle East.
I therefore returned to Parliament from Northampton last week and organised two key meetings with senior figures.
First, I arranged a high level meeting at the House of Commons with a Senior Palestinian Diplomat from the official diplomatic Palestinian Mission in the United Kingdom, the UK’s Palestinian Representatives, who kindly came to see me at the Commons and briefed me on the crisis in Gaza.
In this meeting I conveyed my constituents’ feelings about the conflict and we discussed how best to reach an unlimited ceasefire and lasting peace thereafter.
Secondly, I also arranged, at short notice, a meeting at the Commons with the Chief Executive of the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)- a charity which dedicates its time and resources towards helping the Palestinian victims of war in the Palestinian territories. They do inspiring and brave work in extremely difficult circumstances and I commended them for what they do.
If any of my readers would like to contribute towards the work of this charity details of how to do so can be found on their website by clicking here.
Thirdly, well before this current escalation in violence, some 3 years ago I actually visited the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem- so I have some small first-hand insight in the region. I met then with leaders of the Palestinian Representatives and others.
This is a very long-standing conflict and there are very entrenched dividing lines, but what is truly awful is to see so many innocent people being caught up in horrific violence.
I have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as has the UK Government and the UN.
The people of Gaza have a right to live in peace and Israelis have a right to live without the fear of rocket attacks every day.
I have spoken with many constituents about this conflict and I have emphasised to all that Israel and the Palestinian Authorities in Gaza must adhere to what are called the “Quartet Principles”, namely: Israel must cease its building of settlements and must work towards peace; Hamas must recognise the state of Israel; Hamas must also renounce violence; and abide by previous diplomatic arrangements. These principles are supported by all the political parties in the UK and by most countries around the world.
Just before the Commons went into recess I also attended a debate in the House of Commons on this issue with the Prime Minister and Foreign Office Ministers and I will continue to convey the views of local residents to colleagues in Westminster.