I have been closely following the events of recent weeks and I am deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza.
There is no justification for the firing of over 1,200 rockets towards Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip this week. These attacks harm both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, with more than 200 rockets falling short of their intended targets and exploding in Gaza.
I share the UK Government’s view that Hamas and other terrorist groups must permanently end their incitement and rocket fire; Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence.
Six Israelis have been killed in the attacks and at least 50 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in Israeli airstrikes against Hamas-linked facilities and in explosions caused by misfired Hamas rockets. The loss of civilian lives is deeply regrettable in all circumstances.
It is disappointing that the Hamas terror group has sought to exploit frustrations by encouraging violence following Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to postpone the much-anticipated first set of Palestinian elections in 15 years.
President Abbas’s Fatah party has encouraged mass protests, calling for increased rioting and violence. A statement attributed to Fatah and publicised by official PA news agencies urged Palestinians to “raise the level of confrontation in the coming days”.
On Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, Judaism’s holiest site and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Islam’s third holiest site), Palestinian rioters have thrown rocks and launched fireworks at Israeli police forces and also reportedly onto Jewish worshippers below at the Western Wall.
With regards to the extremely complex dispute in Sheikh Jarrah, this is a legal matter for Israel’s Supreme Court to determine. I understand that the planned evictions will not go ahead before the appeal is heard by the Supreme Court, with a date to be determined within the next 30 days.
Ultimately, the only way to resolve these issues is to secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. This awful violence will solve nothing.
The Abraham Accords signed between Israel and other Arab States last year were encouraging and show the way ahead. I will continue to urge the UK Government to support efforts to restart direct negotiations to achieve a lasting peace.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.