Since we woke up on Saturday morning to those horrifying scenes from Israel and Palestine, we have not shaken the feeling of shock, grief and condemnation. In fact, it has only grown as the tragedy has unfolded.
The young people, shot dead at a music festival. The abduction and degradation of hostages, including women and children. It is truly sickening.
Our party’s response has been united and unequivocal. We fully condemn Hamas’s terrorism. We mourn the innocent lives lost, we pray for the families who have lost loved ones, and echo demands for the immediate and unconditional release of all those taken hostage.
We stand with the Israeli people and with the Jewish community in the UK and around the world, and we condemn the antisemitic incidents that are tragically already increasing.
Israel has, without question, a right in international law to defend its territory and its citizens. We fully support that right. It is vital that it is terrorists who are targeted, not civilians, in line with international humanitarian law.
We also mourn the many innocent Palestinian civilians who have tragically perished - our hearts go out to them, their families and those in the UK with ties there. We know that Hamas is not the Palestinian people. We are very concerned that Gaza is now cut off from essentials like food and water, and are wholeheartedly supporting UN calls to facilitate supplies while also pressing the UK Government to make humanitarian aid available.
I have written my thoughts on this awful tragedy, not just as the party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, but also as the first British-Palestinian MP, someone who fears for my family in the region, and someone who was there just last year.
Writing for HuffPost UK, the first British-Palestinian MP says people on both sides have the right to live without fear.
Right now, my family - living in Jerusalem, Jericho and Ramallah - are all scared. Their friends are too. Some of them are mourning. Mourning the loss of relatives or friends - some of whom are Israeli civilians too.
I feel a deep sense of grief, as I have watched this shocking tragedy unfold over the past few days. The reprehensible acts that Hamas has committed has made a terrible situation hellish. The scale of the group’s terrorist activities has been absolutely shocking.
Hamas’s terrorism must be condemned unequivocally - as must similar activities of other groups like Islamic Jihad. The abduction and degradation of hostages, including women and children, is appalling.
Liberal Democrats echo demands for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and abhor the suggestion they should be used as bargaining chips.
Last year, I along with other frontbench Liberal Democrat spokespeople visited the Israeli town of Kibbutz Netiv Haasarah, near the Gaza border. We met with families who described how they lived in daily fear of events just like those we have tragically seen unfold. Parents spoke of their worries for their children in such circumstances. I was appalled to discover that Kibbutz was one of the places overrun by Hamas.
Thankfully, those we met are safe. But tragically, 16 people were murdered in that village, and more are unaccounted for. The impact on families in Israel, but also the wider community abroad, cannot be underestimated.
Liberal Democrats stand in solidarity with the Jewish community - in the UK, in Israel and around the world - who feel fear and grief. We utterly condemn the antisemitic incidents in the UK which have tragically already increased following this awful violence. Israel has, without question, a right in international law to defend its territory and its citizens. We fully support that right. It is vital that it is terrorists who are targeted, not civilians, in line with international humanitarian law.
Many innocent Palestinian civilians have also tragically perished. Our hearts go out to those individuals, and their families, and those in the UK with ties there.
As the first British-Palestinian MP in the House of Commons, I know that many in the Palestinian community are scared, like my family. I and my colleagues are concerned that essential supplies - water, food, electricity - have been cut off to the 2.2 million residents of the Gaza strip.
We echo the calls of the UN Secretary General, that entry of supplies must be facilitated into Gaza - and it’s vital that the UK government makes humanitarian aid available. The Secretary General has stressed the importance of “strict accordance with international humanitarian law”.
I have never been to Gaza myself, but last year I visited an East Jerusalem hospital ward full of prematurely born babies on incubators, babies whose parents were from Gaza. They were taken to be born in East Jerusalem because Gaza does not have the appropriate health infrastructure. But what will happen now in such cases, when civilians cannot leave Gaza, and two hospitals there have already been destroyed?
The people of Israel and Palestine have a right to live free from fear. When I have visited, I have seen for myself their creativity, positivity and enterprise. This needs to be nurtured and allowed to flourish.
Further, the UK and its partners in the international community cannot allow a return to the status quo. If we are intent on helping to bring the violence to an end once and for all, then it is for countries like ours, which has longstanding ties to the region and is deeply implicated in the origins of this conflict, to take a leading role in bringing about lasting peace and a two state solution. It is vital that the UK Government does so at this crucial moment
As a party that has never shied away from doing the right thing, even if it is difficult, we sometimes stand apart from others. If calling for peace is brave, then that is something I am willing to stand for.
As a proud internationalist party, we must reaffirm our commitment to help bring about a lasting peace with a two-state solution. The people of Israel and Palestine have a right to live free from fear. No one, anywhere, should ever suffer the appalling violence we have seen this week.
Layla Moran is a British-Palestinian MP and the LibDem foreign affairs spokesperson, HuffPost UK, 12 October 2023