Israel's self-defence must be reasonable says MP - The Leamington Observer

Israel's self-defence must be reasonable says MP

Leamington Editorial 25th Oct, 2023   0

WHAT has happened in Israel is indescribably horrific and has constituted catastrophic acts of terrorism.

Discussion of this issue is not served by reticence in calling these acts what they are, and I have signed a letter from all those who have had Cabinet responsibility for media policy, as I have, to say that it is wrong for the BBC to be reluctant to describe acts of terrorism as just that. As almost everyone has agreed, Israel is entitled to help and support in their hour of need and the United Kingdom is right to offer it, along with the clearest and most unequivocal condemnation of Hamas, whose behaviour also damages the interests of the Palestinian people and sets back the cause of the peace both Israelis and Palestinians so desperately need. There is no excuse or valid justification for it. This country is a friend to Israel, and I believe it is right to be, but friends do not just stand by you in your hour of need, they also try to stop you from making mistakes. That is why it is right to criticise Israeli settlements which prejudice that future peace and to urge Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinians over whom they have control.

It is hard to imagine being in the position of the Israeli people and their government. Surrounded by enemies, Israel faces a constant existential threat, and regular attack. Self-defence is a daily need, not a remote possibility, and, again as most have said, Israel has the clear right in international law to defend itself.

But self-defence must be reasonable in the circumstances, and Israel must remember, hard as it is at this moment, that its standards have to be higher than those of Hamas. As Israel’s friends, we must urge restraint now in Israel’s response to the grievous injury they have suffered. The civilian population of Gaza are not to blame for it, and do not deserve the punishment that Hamas clearly does. Making them suffer for it would be wrong, would do serious damage to Israel’s international standing and blunt the sympathy the world feels so keenly for them now. No military advantage, and no revenge – however understandable – is worth the wholesale vacation of the moral high ground.

I support Israel’s right to defend itself, but I hope it will seek to defend its moral authority as well as its borders.

The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is also extremely troubling.

The UK has long been a significant provider of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and I welcome that in October, the UK Government announced that it will increase aid by a third, with an additional £10million of support. More recently, the Prime Minister announced an extra £20million of humanitarian aid to the civilians of Gaza. Furthermore, the UK has deployed significant military support to the region to help facilitate the humanitarian response and mitigate escalation of the conflict.

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