More than 1200 constituents emailed me in the 24 hours before Wednesday’s vote and I hope to have responded to them all individually by the end of today, But I thought it might also be helpful to publish this post on the issue.
I have consistently supported the call for a ceasefire by all parties to the war. I co-ordinated a letter from all Sheffield’s Labour MPs to the Prime Minister two weeks ago, signed a cross-party letter to the Prime Minister more recently, and voted for the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech calling for a ceasefire.
I also voted for Labour’s amendment because it pressed on other important issues, including calling for Israel to protect hospitals and lift the siege of Gaza, for the International Criminal Court to consider actions in contravention of international law, for those forced out of their homes to have the right of return, for an end to settler violence and the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and for a renewed commitment to a lasting peace based on a two-state solution – as well as a longer humanitarian pause as a step towards a permanent cessation of fighting.
Whilst voting as I did, I am concerned that the polarised debate around a ceasefire or humanitarian pause doesn’t help anyone – particularly when tragically neither Israel nor Hamas have shown any willingness to lay down arms. There is a difference, but both would stop the fighting, allow essential aid, and create better conditions to start a multilateral dialogue towards a lasting peace. Indeed, the UN Secretary General has introduced a new form of words, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.
We’ve got to stop arguing about the words and just do all we can to end the killing. The UN Security Council has now agreed a call for a humanitarian pause, in part because a ceasefire would need to be agreed by all parties and a pause could be secured more quickly. I discussed my concerns with Keir Starmer, who set out his belief that backing a humanitarian pause alongside our allies was the best route to stopping the killing sooner.
I was concerned that some of the campaigning on the issue had even suggested that calls for a humanitarian pause were ‘complicit with genocide’. I voted for a ceasefire and will continue to press for it, but I hope that we can respect different views on how we end the killing and build a lasting peace.