LFI parliamentarians argue for sustainable ceasefire in Commons debate

At tonight’s opposition day debate on a ceasefire in Gaza, LFI parliamentary supporters set out the terms that would be required to ensure that any ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is sustainable and lasting.

LFI chair Steve McCabe MP

LFI chair Steve McCabe MP said: “I want a ceasefire. We need a ceasefire, and how I wish that the simple act of calling for one was enough to deliver it, as some people seem to believe. In reality, it will take a bit more than that, and we must accept that if the hostages are not released, that is a major block to a ceasefire. We should throw our weight behind talks in Egypt and Qatar and at the UN, and with the people who are making practical negotiations possible to try to bring this thing to a conclusion. It is not enough to wish for it or to march down the streets, block traffic, invade railway stations, and chant “ceasefire now.” That might make someone feel momentarily good, but it does not change anything at all. We need a much more practical approach to what we are going to do, and that has been absent from this debate, which at times to me sounded like a prosecution of Israel.

As a Labour Friend of Israel, I am happy to criticise some of the actions of the Israeli authorities at the present time. I have no problem with that. But I know what happened in Israel on 7 October, and I do not think that should be written out of history by people chanting for something else. In the time I have available, I will say simply this: I want a ceasefire; I want the hostages released, aid delivered, and support for genuine efforts to build peace. I will work with those of good will from any political sphere who share those views, but we should be careful of sanctimony and lectures from Holy Willies on this subject, because the reality is that we do not get something by wishing for it or by preaching at others; we get it by working for it.”

LFI parliamentary supporter Christian Wakeford MP

LFI vice-chair Christian Wakeford MP said: “In January, I visited Israel and saw for myself the aftermath of Hamas’s attacks last October. In the kibbutz Kfar Aza, I walked the burned-out streets and saw the homes, razed to the ground. This was not the scene of a battle, but of a well-planned and ruthlessly executed massacre: a pogrom. Surprised as they slept in their beds, the residents had no chance to defend themselves. More than 60 people were murdered, 20 were taken hostage, and an unknown number of women were subjected to horrific acts of rape, torture and mutilation. Such scenes were repeated throughout the border communities of southern Israel, and at the Nova music festival, where more than 360 young people were murdered. In Tel Aviv, I visited the exhibition that tells the story of the festival and the appalling events that unfolded there. Our guide, a survivor who had helped to organise the festival, told us that she had lost so many friends in those few bloody hours that she had to choose which of their funerals to attend.

We urgently need an end to the fighting, and a permanent and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza, but that requires the perpetrators of the 7 October attacks to be disarmed, and to have no part in the future governance of Gaza, so that they can never again—as they have repeatedly pledged to—repeat the horrific crimes that they committed against Israeli men, women and children nearly 140 days ago. It also requires Hamas to immediately release the more than 130 hostages that they continue to hold—hostages who we know Hamas have beaten, tortured and raped. Among the hostages is the British citizen Nadav Popplewell, whose sister Ayelet Svatitzky I met in Israel. Ayelet’s 79-year-old mother, Channah, was also seized at the kibbutz Nirim, and her brother Roi was shot and killed behind his home at the kibbutz.

I also want to mention events closer to home. Within hours of the Hamas attacks, anti-Israel protesters massed outside the Israeli embassy in London, and they have continued to demonstrate in our towns and cities ever since. Some have chanted antisemitic slogans and carried racist signs. Others have glorified Hamas’s butchery, and many more appear not to have noticed, or not to have been concerned, by what was occurring around them. This Manichean view of the conflict, which seeks to cast one side as victim and the other as villain, will do nothing to promote or further a desperately needed, genuine peace process that fulfils the Israelis’ right to security and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”

LFI vice-chair Sharon Hodgson MP

LFI vice-chair Sharon Hodgson MP said: “The SNP motion today raises the important point that we must all be calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, specifically to prevent the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah, which cannot be allowed to continue. However, I cannot vote for the SNP motion without the amendment tabled by my party. Labour’s amendment provides an opportunity for the whole House to speak with one voice and call for a ceasefire that is sustainable; one that will last and put an end to the starvation, suffering, injury and death that has gone on for far too long.

That is why we cannot call for a ceasefire without an amendment that understands that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting while Hamas continue with violence and holding hostages. We cannot have a meaningful and enduring ceasefire if we do not recognise that it must, by definition, be two-sided. All Palestinian civilians in Gaza must be protected. Hamas must be disarmed and have no role in the future governance of Gaza. All hostages must be freed and returned to their families. The international community must act to instigate a Marshall plan for rebuilding Gaza and the innocent lives of all those touched by this conflict. Without those conditions, I fear any ceasefire would be unsustainable and would simply destabilise the environment further, causing more suffering.

With Labour’s amendment, the House has an opportunity to come together alongside our colleagues in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and call for an end to this horrific period of violence. A ceasefire must stand as the start of a new chapter. There must be genuine progress towards a negotiated two state-solution. The international community must play its role in creating a pathway towards the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state, recognised as such—one that can thrive in peace side by side with Israel, within secure and recognised borders, with Hamas’s operations demilitarised and their weapons decommissioned beyond use. Colleagues from across this House should join our call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire with a clear plan for how that can be achieved, and vote for our amendment tonight.”

LFI parliamentary supporter Andrew Gwynne MP

LFI parliamentary supporter Andrew Gwynne MP said: “I will be voting for an immediate ceasefire tonight, because the fighting needs to stop and it needs to stop now, but I will be doing so on the basis of the Opposition amendment (a), which was set out so eloquently by my right hon. Friend, the shadow Foreign Secretary. Words matter and it matters that we call for a ceasefire—not a unilateral ceasefire, but a ceasefire of both sides, otherwise it is not a ceasefire. Those on the SNP Benches can laugh, but if Hamas do not lay down their arms, too, it is not a ceasefire. That is a simple fact. I want to ensure that the offensive on Rafah does not happen, that we get aid into the Gaza Strip in the quantities that we want to see. Aid is not mentioned in the SNP motion. We need to ensure that the ICJ’s provisional rulings are implemented and upheld, because international law matters, and that we get a two-state solution and a peace process. We need to tackle the wrongdoings in the west bank. The illegal settlements have to end. We also need to ensure that there is justice for the Palestinians, and that we get a Palestinian state. None of that is in the SNP motion.”

You can read the full debate here.