Thirteen Caabu delegates to Palestine speak in a House of Commons debate on Gaza

Posted by Caabu on 17 Jul 2014

Thirteen members of Parliament, who have been on Caabu delegations to Palestine, spoke at a debate in Parliament on Gaza on Monday 14 July 2014. The debate followed a statement from former Foreign Secretary William Hague. Caabu's Chair Andy Love MP and board member Crispin Blunt MP contributed to the debate. Former Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, who visited Palestine on a Caabu/Medical Aid for Palestinian delegation in December 2013, and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell MP, who visited Gaza with Caabu, also spoke. Other MPs who visited the region with Caabu include Debbie Abrahams MP, Rushanara Ali MP, Richard Burden MP, Karen Buck MP, Nia Griffith MP, Martin Horwood MP, Cathy Jamieson MP, Seema Malhotra MP, and Andy Slaughter MP. They all spoke in the debate, which you can watch below. You can also read the debate in full here.

In the debate, Jack Straw said that the Israeli government and Israel forces placed "a completely different and much lower value on Palestinian life", he said:

"The whole House condemns the killing of the three Israelis and the burning of the Palestinian, and none of us has any truck with Hamas. However, for all the vacuous words of the Israeli Government and the Israel defence forces spokesman, is it not clear that they have no regard for international humanitarian law; that they place a completely different and much lower value on Palestinian life than Israeli life; and that the cycle will go on as long as the international community, in an effort to be even-handed, fails to say to the Israelis that the actions that they are taking are completely outwith the United Nations charter and any idea of how a civilised nation ought to behave?"

Sir Menzies Campbell said that whilst it was unacceptable that Israeli civilians had to endure rocket attacks, Israel's disproportinate response was also equally unacceptable. He said:

"I have not been here quite as long as the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), but I certainly share his frustration, and I suspect that it is shared in all parts of the House. It is wholly unacceptable that the people of Israel should be subject to random and indiscriminate rocket attacks, but it is equally unacceptable that the response of the Israeli Government should be disproportionate, contrary to international law and at the expense of civilians, particularly children."

Caabu Chair Andy Love asked former Foreign Secretary William Hague if there was a role for the UN Secretary General in acheiving a ceasefire in Gaza, and if the British government would support it. He said:

"The bleak situation facing the Middle East so adequately reflected in today’s exchanges calls for an enhanced role for the United Nations Secretary-General, at least in the context of de-escalation and achieving a ceasefire—it may be that other parties would want to carry the peace process forward. Does the Foreign Secretary agree with that summation that there is a role for the UN Secretary-General, and will he support that at the Security Council and in other forums?"

Crispin Blunt MP, a Caabu board member, noted that the number of Palestinian children (at that point) killed in conflict since 2000 had reached 1,430. He asked if the Foreign Secretary now regarded Israeli military action as disproportionate:

"When the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson), answered the urgent question two weeks ago following the dreadful murder of the three Israeli teenagers, the Palestinian children death toll due to the conflict had reached 1,406. On Saturday it reached 1,430, including the killing of four toddlers in the course of the last week. Will the Foreign Secretary now say what he has implied: that the Israeli action is disproportionate?"