Update 16th November 2023
The current wave of violence in the Middle East that we have been witnessing on a daily basis has shocked us all. The level of human misery, suffering and death cannot fail to move.
I have been unequivocal in my support for a humanitarian ceasefire. This is a call that has been led by my party leader, and First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf MSP. I will continue to add my voice to the growing chorus of support, both at home and internationally, for a ceasefire. I have also joined my Parliamentary colleagues in signing a motion supporting the protection of civilians and calling on the Government to push for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities.
In addition, I want to highlight that my SNP colleagues and I submitted, and voted in favour of, an amendment to the King's Speech recognising the horrors perpetrated by Hamas and calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We believe that acknowledging the suffering on both sides is crucial for a balanced approach to this conflict. The amendment aligned with our commitment to humanitarian principles and the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.
I am also clear that those hostages taken by Hamas, currently being held against their will, must be freed at once.
The Hamas-led attacks on innocent Israeli civilians on October 7th were absolutely horrifying – indeed it has been noted that it was the single biggest slaughter of Jewish people in a single day since the horrors of the holocaust.
I do not question Israel’s right to defence and security – it must have that right. But like every other country, it must pursue its defence and security policy within the context of international law.
This is not an opt-in/opt-out. The siege and bombardment we have witnessed in response to the October 7th attacks have gone beyond what international law allows for. That is wholly unacceptable.
Although it is welcome that some aid is now making its way into Gaza from the crossing with Egypt, it is obvious that what is being allowed to enter is nowhere near enough. This aid needs ramped up immediately, and it needs to get to those who need it, swiftly.
I also want to make clear my utter abhorrence at the rise in antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate crime in recent weeks is a grotesque development and must also be called out. Jewish people here in Scotland are not responsible for the Israeli government. Muslims are not responsible for the crimes of Hamas. Any form of hate, racism or discrimination as a response to what we are seeing in the Middle East is wholly unacceptable and can never be justified.
I will continue to support calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and for desperately needed aid – food, water, medicine – to get to those in Gaza who need it so desperately. I hope we will see others – particularly those in senior political positions – join those calls sooner rather than later.
It is also my hope that a more long-term diplomatic solution can be pursued. A lasting peace between Israel and Palestine is further away than at any point in my lifetime, and the reality is that there are few partners for peace to be found. That being said, a lasting peace must be pursued. The international community must try to broker a cessation of violence now, and help deliver a sustainable peace format that is fit for the long-term security, dignity and prosperity of Palestinians and Israelis alike.