At Monday’s Westminster Hall Debate, on three e-petitions relating to Israel and Palestine, Labour Opposition Whip, Christian Wakeford, stated that he supports increased humanitarian aid into Gaza, including “fuel, electricity and food” supplies, but currently sees a permanent ceasefire with Hamas as impossible, owing to the last pause that “broke down because Hamas broke the terms of that truce”. He went on to say that “Hamas do not care about peace”.
“It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. I rise to speak on the petitions before us today in no particular order, but I do not think that anyone inside or outside this Chamber would disagree with e-petition 648383, which calls on the Government to urge the Israeli Government to allow fuel, electricity and food into Gaza. The fact that aid has started is welcome, but it is nowhere near enough; we all appreciate that fact. However, I do not rise in support of e-petition 648292, which calls on the Government to seek a ceasefire. I find myself in a very unusual position, in that I will quote someone who I never thought I would quote, and that is Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend, he said: “In terms of a permanent ceasefire, I don’t know how you can have a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, who has said before October 7 and after October 7 that they want to destroy Israel. They want a permanent war. I don’t know how you have a permanent ceasefire with an attitude like that…I think Israel has the right to defend itself” if it goes after Hamas, but not after the Palestinian people. Those are very powerful words, with which, again, I think everyone would agree.
We have had a ceasefire previously. In fact, we had a humanitarian pause just recently, which ended on 1 December. That broke down because Hamas broke the terms of that truce. They started trying to dictate which hostages would be released, and then they began again to fire rockets indiscriminately towards residential areas of Israel – itself a war crime. If a temporary truce cannot hold, what chance is there of a permanent ceasefire?
We have an important duty in this place. I have a lot of sympathy with those calling for a ceasefire—who could see bodies being dragged out of rubble and not want that to stop? Everyone with any shred of dignity would want that. However, is that realistic? I do not think so. The pogrom of 7 October—I call it a pogrom because that is what it was—and the sheer scale of the attack that day shook the world. It shook my constituents, who have family members and friends who were not only taken hostage but killed that day—family members such as Vivian Silver, whose cousins I sat and spoke to when I was in shul at the Shrubberies, and again in Whitefield. Her cousins thought she had been taken hostage. The attack was so brutal that her body was not identified until 14 November, more than a month and a half after she was murdered. It took that long to be able to identify her remains and show she had been murdered by Hamas.
I stand with my constituents in saying that calling for a ceasefire is not the right call to make. I have gone to many shuls, spoken at many vigils and spoken to many of my constituents, and they agree. Like you, Mr McCabe, I was at Kibbutz Kfar Aza earlier this year; the tranquillity of that location is now permanently broken. As you will know, our tour guide lost pretty much her entire family that day. Her parents were murdered, and her little brother survived only by hiding under the dead bodies of his parents for seven hours. That is the barbarity—the animal nature—that we are facing.
Hamas do not care about peace. As has been said already, they say in their charter they want to wipe Jewish people off the face of the earth. But it is not just Hamas; Hezbollah in the north and Iran in the middle east are destabilising the entire region. We need to speak more about what we are doing with Iran. I make a plea again to the Minister: as has been said throughout this year and beforehand, now is the time to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety, because it is Iran that is getting these weapons to Hamas in Gaza.
There are many questions as to what is going on in Gaza. There is a terror tunnel network—that cannot be denied. We have seen the footage; we have seen the blast doors; we have seen the fire holes. It is not set up for normal transport around Gaza, but to support terror activities. That is why Israel has the right to defend itself by going after Hamas: to make sure no attacks like that can take place ever again. On 1 November, Ghazi Hamad, a senior member of Hamas, told Lebanese television that Hamas would repeat the attacks of 7 October “a second time and a third time”, and keep on repeating those attacks until there is no Israel. That is why I cannot support a
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