|Middle East crisis|
|Thursday, 08 January 2009 14:04|
This is taken from the email update I sent out today to those on my mailing list. To receive more emails like this sign up here
No one could have missed the terrible events that have unfolded in the Middle East in the past two weeks, with the loss of so many innocent lives and the immense human suffering.
I have spoken to senior officials and Cabinet Ministers and can tell you that numerous calls have been made by Gordon Brown and David Miliband to their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts seeking an urgent ceasefire.
I am greatly saddened and deeply concerned by the recent recourse to the cycle of violence by both sides. Hamas has launched rocket attacks into Israel targeting civilians, while the consequences of Israeli military action in Gaza over the last thirteen days has been all too clear: with Palestinian health officials reporting 700 deaths, many of them civilians and children, the horror of war has been piled upon months of deprivation creating an nightmarish situation for the people of Gaza.
The shocking news of further civilian deaths in a UN school marked a dark and terrible day in the region's history.
There can be no military solution to the Israel/Palestine situation. Peace will only come from a political solution. As the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed at the UN, it is only the two-state solution that offers the hope of security and justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. I strongly support the recent call by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Foreign Secretary for an immediate and urgent ceasefire on both sides and will work in whatever way I constructively can to try to ensure this is achieved
On Tuesday and again this morning I met personally with Bill Rammell, Minister of State for the Foreign Office with responsibility for the Middle East (David Miliband was not available for a meeting as he is in New York trying to secure a UN resolution on this matter). Bill Rammell has assured me that the Foreign Office are fully aware of the strength of feeling of ordinary British citizens of all faiths and are doing all they can to halt the suffering of civilians in Gaza.
I have serious concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, and have contacted leading British charities such as Oxfam and Islamic Relief as well as Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, to raise my concerns and urge greater and swifter action.
However, in reality, the fighting must stop to enable humanitarian agencies to help people in desperate need and to prevent any more of the infrastructural damage which is worsening the Palestinian's situation day-by-day.
I am determined to put an end to the horrendous situation which has unfolded and will work my hardest with Ministers and NGOs to ensure this is achieved as quickly as possible.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
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