On Wednesday, I voted for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
This is the only solution that can deliver safety to innocent Palestinian civilians, as well as offering the best hope for ensuring the safe return of the hostages held by Hamas. More than 4,000 children have been killed in the bombardment of Gaza over the past weeks, more than all other children who have been killed in conflicts worldwide since 2019. This cannot go on.
Collectively punishing a civilian population by depriving them of food, water and electricity is a war crime. This must be called out and clearly condemned. It is not enough to call on Israel to adhere to international law if we remain silent when they break it. The UK Government must also be clear about its support for international law, and that there will be consequences for war crimes committed in Gaza. Giving the Israeli Government a blank cheque in its assault on Gaza is a moral dereliction of duty and should be regarded as complicity.
The path to a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians alike lies through a ceasefire and dialogue. A continued bombardment of Gaza will only sow the seeds of future violence. Killing innocent Palestinians does not make Israel more secure. We must all work towards a peaceful settlement that ends the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and ends the discrimination against Palestinians that has been clearly documented across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
I am continuing to receive briefings on a regular basis about the developing situation on the ground and I will continue to use my voice to call for an immediate ceasefire.
International Development Select Committee
On Tuesday, as part of my role on the International Development Select Committee, we held a session to question several humanitarian agencies about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. This included Yasmine Ahmed of Human Rights Watch and Melanie War of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
I had the opportunity to question Sam Rose, Director of Planning for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, and Shaina Low, an adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council, about food insecurity and access to water in Gaza. Both Sam and Shaina conveyed the shocking scenes witnessed by their staff on the ground in Gaza.
There is a severe lack of food and water available. Bakeries play a crucial role in feeding the Gazan population, with aid agencies delivering subsidized flour to bakeries. However, Sam of the UNRWA reported to the committee that most bakeries across Gaza are no longer operating. The risk to life due to starvation is immediate.
Shaina of MAP told the committee how their staff are reporting on the difficulties faced by families in the south of Gaza who are now hosting displaced families from the north. There is simply not enough food and water available while Israel continues the siege. Virtually no aid, food, or water of any kind can get into Gaza. This has meant that the population is now relying on local markets. However, at those markets, they are struggling to find even the basics like rice, cooking oil, and flour.
What’s clear is that unless Israel ends the collective punishment of the Palestinian people and allows sufficient aid to flow into Gaza again, the Gazan population faces starvation.
Chairing the Eye Care APPG
This week I was pleased to Chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, in place of my college Marsha de Cordova MP. The session was used to introduce the new Eye Care Support Pathway, a significant initiative that seeks to address key stages in the eye care journey.
Gareth Davis initiated the discussions by sharing his personal journey, having been diagnosed with Retina Pigmentosa. His narrative underscored the significance of timely and appropriate support, a theme that resonated throughout the meeting.
Eamonn Dunn and Helen Doyle provided an introduction to the Eye Care Support Pathway. They highlighted the necessity for clear information, treatment timelines, and comprehensive support for emotional and financial aspects. We were also able to hear from speakers from the optometry, ophthalmology, and rehabilitation sectors, including Prof. Leon Davis, Prof. Ben Burton, and Simon Labbett. Each speaker provided insights into the transformative measures being undertaken within their respective domains, guided by the principles of the Eye Care Support Pathway.
It is incumbent upon those in Westminster to now push these issues up the agenda and force a positive shift in the delivery of information, advice, and non-clinical support. We can do so much more to improve eye care. We do not yet have a comprehensive system of eye-care which is fit for the 21st Century. It’s clear that the Eye Care Support Pathway will take us many steps closer to making that a reality.
Thank you for taking the time to read my latest update, if you have any issues that you would like to raise directly with me then please do email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Member of Parliament for Edmonton