During the parliamentary break this week, MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, joined a delegation from the House of Commons and Lords to visit Israel and Palestine.
During the extensive trip covering the region, Stephen travelled to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with a Minister from the Palestinian Authority (PA), visited a hospital providing children from the PA and developing countries with lifesaving heart surgery, payed his respects at Yad Vashem, the international Holocaust memorial museum, liaised with the Israeli Labour Party in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and met with the British Ambassador to be briefed on the Embassy’s important diplomatic work in the region.
Stephen joined a Labour delegation with Shadow Secretary of State, Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Reynolds and other Labour MPs. The delegation was led by Joan Ryan MP, chair of LFI.
There is intense debate over the challenges and worrying conflict in the region, including constant security and existential threat. Constituents regularly write to Stephen on international matters sharing views on the conflict and what the British state can do to encourage peace negotiations.
Recent weeks have seen an escalation in violence in the region alongside growing international concern. Clashes have been condemned in Britain by the Labour Party, committed to comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution in the region: a secure Israel alongside a state of Palestine.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
”The terrible events of recent weeks in Gaza serve as yet another reminder of the urgent need to work towards the two-state solution we all want to see – a secure Israel living in peace alongside a viable state of Palestine and an end to the senseless cycle of violence.
I am committed to working with others pressing for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution but this will require both sides avoiding actions that make it harder to achieve.
This must mean an end to the blockade of Gaza, an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory and an end to illegal settlement construction. It must also mean an end to terror attacks and a move away from extreme and entrenched positions“.
The City MP continues to be concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing. The blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services.
Mr Morgan added:
“I am appalled by the violence that has occurred recently. Whilst travelling in the region this week there was again deeply disturbing conflict. Listening to people who continue to live with this was hugely thought provoking and concerning and I now have useful contacts in the region in taking forward concerns.
All parties must commit to respecting peaceful protest, showing restraint and following international law. There is a need to establish the facts around these events and I believe there should be a transparent investigation”.
In keeping with Labour’s manifesto commitments and policy on the Israeli conflict, the delegation met with the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Israeli Labour Party and various other progressive voices as they sought to continue an international dialogue to achieve peace, and a lasting two-state solution.
The UK has a strong bilateral relationship with Israel across politics, the economy, culture and education.
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry following her own visit to the region has stated the support for the state of Israel as ‘basic internationalism’ and the “way we (Labour) have historically reached out and felt a spirit of solidarity with other movements across the world built on the same socialist values and beliefs on which our own party is founded”.
Speaking about his own visit, Stephen said:
“I think it’s really important to be able to speak with experience in the House of Commons and this means finding the time to get a feel for issues on the ground.
Labour wants a two-state solution and we must all work together towards a commitment to peace, reconciliation and co-existence.
We all have a shared duty to look to the future and towards the next generation of young people growing up in Israel and Palestine today. Unfortunately, at present, that generation knows nothing but division and violence.
It is essential that our Government fully backs all initiatives aimed at keeping the two-state solution alive and I will be pressing them in Parliament to do so.
If we in the international community want to seek peace, this visit and sort of engagement with all sides is an important part of the way forward”.