"Over the past month we have seen the continuation of Israeli air strikes and ground raids in Gaza, and repeated rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel. There continue to be appalling and inexcusable acts of violence on both sides. With over 1800 confirmed dead, the conflict is causing unimaginable suffering for countless innocent people. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost loved ones.
“It is extremely courageous of my friend Sayeeda Warsi to resign over this Governments inexplicable silence and total weakness on the Gaza crisis. The British government’s lack of leadership on the catastrophe in Gaza has been appalling. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been silent while the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza continue to lead to death, injury and hardship. Their failure to criticise Israel is shocking.
“Ed Miliband has pressed David Cameron and the Cabinet to put Britain in a leading role in pressuring both sides now to end the violence. He has stated:
"I think Sayeeda Warsi has acted with principle and integrity today. I think people around Britain have been shocked by the causalities and suffering that we have seen in Gaza and I hope that David Cameron will reflect on what she says in her resignation letter and change his approach."
"Ed has acknowledged that we face difficult days and weeks ahead and we need principled and consistent leadership rather than the current silence, which is, as Sayeeda Warsi states, 'morally indefensible'. With the current, tentative humanitarian ceasefire in place it is now more important than ever that as a country we show leadership and work with the international community to re-establish meaningful negotiations to achieve a two-state solution.
"The Labour Party have not just called for an immediate ceasefire, but have also made clear that we oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza. Having visited the region earlier this year, Labour Leader Ed Miliband has repeatedly condemned the further escalation of violence and the ground invasion into Gaza by Israel. You may be interested in reading an extract of the speech Ed Miliband delivered at the Labour Party’s Eid ul Fitr reception last week. Calling for an immediate ceasefire, he said very clearly that the Israeli incursion into Gaza is both wrong and unjustifiable. Speaking out about the mounting death toll of innocent Palestinian civilians by some estimates 1 in 4 of them children, he renewed Labour’s long standing commitment to seeking a two-state solution, with both Israel and Palestine living alongside each other in peace and security. At the event we took opportunity to raise money for Gaza with leading charity Islamic Relief.
“Events unfolding in Gaza today are the kind of horrors that can define a generation. This week saw the third shelling of a school housing displaced civilians in Gaza. The UN’s humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, has expressed extreme concern at the situation in Gaza, describing a ceasefire as "vital". Baroness Amos also stated that the conflict has meant 44% of Gaza is a no-go area for Palestinians, and highlighted that residents are running out of food.
“The scale of human suffering in the region is immense and cannot be tolerated. Religion and nationality aside, all lives are equal - the life of a Palestinian child is worth no less than the life of an Israeli child. The people of Gaza have the right to live in peace and safety, just as Israelis have the right not to live in constant fear for their safety and that of their families. Almost all the casualties so far have been Palestinian civilians, one in four of which were children. The rapidly growing death toll on both sides risks fuelling yet more extremism and conflict, and this will no doubt only lead to further suffering in the region.
"This violence must end. Israel needs to recognise that its long term security depends on a willingness to take part in peaceful and substantive negotiations and, in turn, Palestinians must negotiate in good faith if we are to restore hope of a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
"I have written to William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (below), asking that he use all influence possible on behalf of the UK to achieve an immediate halt to the violence, an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza, and ensure that human rights and international law are upheld. I have also written to the Secretary of State for International Development (also below), to request that all efforts be made to ensure a free flow of vital life-saving aid, medical supplies and other equipment to Gaza via humanitarian aid organisations.
“With every tragic escalation such as this, the prospects of a lasting peace can seem ever further away. Ultimately, this historic conflict can only be settled through a negotiated two-state solution involving a fair settlement on Jerusalem, the rights of refugees and land swaps to respect the pre-1967 borders. One key source of tension is the hundreds of thousands of new settlers who now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The building of settlements in these areas is opposed by most countries – including the UK – and is widely felt to be in breach of the Geneva Convention (Article 49) and a number of UN Security Council Resolutions. The Labour Party believe that settlement building by Israel is illegal and a key barrier to advancing peace negotiations. We have repeatedly called for Israel to immediately end settlement expansion, and fully support a negotiated two-state solution that establishes a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel with both sides enjoying the respect and recognition of their neighbours and the wider international community.
"Both sides, regional players and the international community - including the UK Government - share a profound moral duty to do everything possible to end this loss of life and help create the conditions to give the children of Israelis and Palestinians alike a future filled with hope, not conflict. Every effort must be made through the United Nations, the Quartet, the Arab League and the wider international community to act to decisively reverse the unfolding dynamic of events."
Sadiq Khan MP is the Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Minister for London
Read Labour Leader, Ed Miliband's full statement on the escalation of violence in Gaza here.
Read a full statement from Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, here.