John Nicolson Calls for Gaza Ceasefire

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Categories: News

As voters, you’ve written to me in unprecedented numbers, asking me to speak in support of a ceasefire resolution here at the Westminster Parliament.

I’ve just done so. And I was proud to represent you and the people of Scotland.

Here’s what I said:

“As of today it’s estimated that 17,487 people have been killed in Gaza. Around 7000 of the dead are children. Nearly one hundred journalists have been killed so far. The number of bodies trapped in rubble, unable to be brought out and buried is believed to be well into the thousands.

Israel has a right to defend itself. But surely we can agree that what we are witnessing long ago tipped from justifiable self-defence, to brutal attack.

Most of the world watches horrified by the continuing heavy, deadly, inhumane bombardment of a tiny patch of land – the Gaza Strip – and the terrified and traumatised people living there.

Dying there.

Israel tells them to flee. But flee where? Where do you flee to if every border is closed? And when people do try and flee they are bombed as they flee. This is hell.

International law says that care must be taken to safeguard civilians. What care is Israel taking? It bombs schools and hospitals. Appartements and pancaked by bombs, and a university was flattened. These are war crimes.

And they are war crimes committed not by a monstrous terrorist group like Hamas. But by a country we laud as the only democracy in the region.

And who are being pulverised but the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Palestinians terrorised out of their homes by Jewish partisans in 1948.

Despite the brutality of that dispossession, most Palestinians have yearned ever since for peace and coexistence. As a journalist I have interviewed many of their leaders and key players on the Israeli side too – Arafat, Olmert, Hanan Ashrawi, Edward Said and Netanyahu – who seems never to have wanted peace. As Prime Minister this cruel and callous man has presided over the corrupting of Israeli politics, offering support to Israeli extremists and the constant, illegal building on Palestinian land.

Most Palestinians – a Mediterranean people – had no time for the zealotry of Hamas. But who do we think the orphaned children of Gaza will turn to when they crawl out of the rubble? Bitterness and hatred have been planted deep in the souls of innocents. They will remember these weeks for the rest of their lives.

And what of the UK? We, surely have a special responsibility as the former occupying power?

Our abstention on the UN ceasefire resolution on Friday shamed us.

Labour’s abstention on the SNP ceasefire motion in this Parliament shamed the party. There were honourable exceptions, I know, who stood up against the bullying they had to endure from their whips. But what are you doing abstaining on an issue like this? At what point will

the Labour leadership realise how desperately out of step it is from public opinion. And from decency?

How can both front benches watch and stay silent? How can the Labour leader say watching this carnage and cruelty that the Israeli Government is within its rights to withhold water from children. Yet another war crime.

The Labour leadership volte face when it comes will be excruciating to watch.

UK neutrality. Food to the starving. Water. Electricity for the hospitals. A halt to the bombardment and death. That’s all that the people in our constituencies want us to argue for, to vote in support of. Basic humanity.

Otherwise where does it all end? Far from being weakened, I suspect extremist groups will be strengthened. The worst possible outcome. This conflict cannot be won by military means.

You can no more bomb a land into peace than you can poison a body into health.

Only ceasefire and negotiations can stop this carnage. I call upon colleagues across the benches to raise our voice for peace.”