Events at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah

I have been contacted by many of my constituents about recent events in Jerusalem and across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

I am deeply concerned about the situation in East Jerusalem. The forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah must stop and I condemn attempts by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian homes. East Jerusalem has been illegally annexed – Israel is the occupying power, which creates obligations that the Israeli Government is not meeting. Israel must comply with international law.

I was shocked to see the violence used against worshippers gathered during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque – this was totally unacceptable. It is essential that holy sites are respected.

Reports that Israeli air strikes on Gaza have killed multiple civilians, including children, are shocking and appalling. Along with the rocket attacks launched by Hamas, I strongly condemn all actions that endanger civilians. Leaders on both sides must urgently seek to de-escalate tensions and defuse the situation.

In my view the UK Government should make urgent representations to the Israeli Government to halt all evictions in East Jerusalem, change planning laws that discriminate against Palestinians and suspend the construction of all other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank immediately.

On Wednesday 12 May 2021, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa responded to an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on the violence in Israel and Palestine. The Minister’s statement is available to view here. Although I welcome the Minister’s condemnation of violence against peaceful worshippers, the Government must take further steps to prevent the attempted illegal evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and secure a new round of peace negotiations to prevent any further violence.

The United Kingdom has a historic responsibility to the people of Palestine and a fundamental obligation to uphold international law. The eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem must end and the UK Government must work with the international community to reinforce our commitment to a two-state solution. Anything less is an abject failure of responsibility which will lead to further suffering.