The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains desperate and it is imperative that urgent action is taken to address the plight of innocent civilians, especially women and children, who have already paid too high a price in the tragic conflict which Hamas began on 7 October.

We welcome the efforts, led by President Biden, of the international community to address this issue and the Israel Defence Force’s announcement last week that it wishes to “flood” Gaza with humanitarian aid.

But beyond food, medicine and shelter, what the people of Gaza really need is an end to the fighting and a permanent and sustainable ceasefire. It is clear that Hamas – which must be disarmed and can have no role in the future governance of Gaza – is presently blocking the ceasefire negotiations and the long overdue release of Israeli hostages. As ever, Hamas is putting its own narrow interests and those of its terrorist prisoners in Israel above the wellbeing of the people of Gaza.

The removal of Hamas is, however, only the first step in bringing long-term peace and security to both the peoples of Israel and Palestine. As we have consistently argued, a permanently demilitarised Gaza must be reunited with the West Bank under a radically reformed and strengthened Palestinian Authority. Despite its many flaws and weaknesses, only the PA has the legitimacy and authority to assume responsibility for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza. A lawless, failed state in Gaza cannot attend to the needs of the people of Gaza. It cannot provide the security the people of Israel have the right to expect. And it will weaken the case for two states for two peoples.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is too extreme, divided and compromised to lead Israel at this vital time. The government is effectively a political hostage of the far right. It refuses to engage with the PA and devise a credible plan for the post-war future of Gaza. And its vacillation risks a vacuum in Gaza which endangers the IDF’s military gains and threatens further suffering for the Palestinian people. It is time for a broad-based unity government – free from, and not beholden to, a far right which represents the outlook of few Israelis – and elections as soon as possible.