GazaAs the appalling toll of lives lost has mounted again today in Gaza, it is increasingly clear that it is practically impossible for the Israelis to conduct proportionate operations there. The UN Security Council has rightly called for an immediate ceasefire. The UN Secretary General has described Israel’s shelling of the Shejaiya district of Gaza as “an atrocious action”.

Israeli Forces may well give advance notice of their actions but Gaza is arguably too densely populated to allow effective evacuation under operations of this scale. The scandalous deaths of the boys on the beach and of the infirm in hospital have cemented the fact that Israel has taken innocent civilian lives in the course of this response.

For the sake of common humanity, there should be an immediate ceasefire on both sides. There should be immediate humanitarian aid. There should be a swift resumption of serious peace talks.

Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials have repeatedly said that the only way to avoid the cycle of violence and the perpetual insecurity in the region can be to address the root causes of the conflict.

As we have recoiled from the violence committed by both sides, too little attention has been paid to the reality of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, their development over the years and their consequences for Palestinians. The progression of those settlements has left the Palestinian people in a state of despair. The election of Hamas appears to be one result. A hopeful future must be found instead.

As William Hague explained on 8 April 2014, the British Government’s position is that a two-state solution should be based on the 1967 borders of Israel. As he explained on 17 June, the UK’s long-standing position is that Israeli settlements on occupied land are illegal.

Given the expansion of Israel into the West Bank during years of talks, it is not surprising that local people view with anger and disgust the circumstances within which so much innocent blood is now being spilled.

An immediate ceasefire should be followed by sincere efforts to create a prosperous future for both the Israeli and Palestinian people through the establishment of a functioning Palestinian state. It is extremely difficult to see how any other solution will be peaceful and lasting.


  1. Very good statement at present circumstance.

  2. Ian McFarlane

    Thank you Steve, good analysis. Sadly, Palestinians have forfeited their claim to 1967 boundaries by years of denial of Zionist reality. The best we can all hope for now is dismantling of That Wall. The ‘holy’ land, and all land, is for humankind to share,

  3. A ceasefire only works when observed by BOTH sides of the conflict.
    Too often Hamas have broken the peace, by initiating rocket attacks.
    Israel respond harshly but it is also done out of frustration.
    A two state solution only works with Arab and Palastinian recognition of the Israeli state and it’s right to exist.

    • Perhaps Israel should take your land by force, then you should have a cease fire right? And if you attempt to take it back you are a terrorist.

  4. I am pleased to have read this statement.
    Very appropriate in current situation.

  5. Yaseen Aslam

    Israel soldiers fired into Al Jazeera’s office in Gaza.

    Journalists, under international law and the Government of Israel has a duty, under international law, to provide them with protection and most certainly not to target them in the manner threatened by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday 21th July and put into effect Tuesday 22nd July by Israeli soldiers.

    Israel has violated many International law why is our government not taking action against this and the illegal settlement by Israel. I’m sure we the tax payer are happy for Britain to invade or send troop to Israel/Palestine as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Why is the our media very bias in reporting current crisis on Gaza. Over 100,000 protested in London and many all over UK. There has been very limited coverage of this on the national news?? Clearly some issue here!

  6. Well, as the saying goes “fine words butter no parsnips”.

    There is absolutely no prospect of such a civilised solution to the problem.

    Hamas is a legitimate party democratically elected by the Palestinian people that has decided to indulge in a dialogue of rocket fire with Israel. They reap what they sow and are now faced with a response of Israeli rockets for which they have no defence.

    Let’s be quite clear: their rockets were not a part of a clay pigeon shoot nor were their tunnels a game of peek a boo. They were initiated with murderous intent on an Israeli population.

    The west shows horror at the collateral damage on the civilian population but conveniently forget Hiroshima, Vietnam, Dresden and the Nazi murder of Jews.

    Israel thinks it has an answer and that is the total destruction of Hamas but there are other ways.

    Hamas should stop firing rockets and it will find Israel will respond in kind.

    Is it really too big an ask for Hamas to acknowledge the right, both in word and deed, for Israel to exist? Should they do so it would represent a giant step forward.

    If not we should allow the Israelis to do it their way without the political classes causing a lot of meaningless noise about talks that will never happen