Published on 31 Jul 2014

Exclusive: Tory MP urges government ‘rethink’ on Gaza

The first signs of serious unease are emerging in Conservative ranks about the government’s stance on the conflict in Gaza.

The new foreign secretary has been treading a careful line in recent days. Too careful, think some of his colleagues.

Channel 4 News can reveal that the Conservative MP Margot James has written to Philip Hammond to ask him to rethink government policy towards the war.

Her letter leaves him in no doubt about the strength of feeling not only on the Tory benches, but also in the country at large.

“My constituents, not all of them Muslim, regard the Israeli action as wholly disproportionate to the threat posed by Hamas,” she writes.

She continues: “I ask that the government rethinks policy towards the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“The scale of suffering in Gaza is far too great, the loss of life, and particularly the lives of children and other vulnerable individuals, cannot be justified on the grounds of defence in proportion to the level of threat faced by Israel from Hamas.

“I also think that we should make it clear that it is unacceptable for Israel to just dismiss US proposals for peace without any debate whatsoever.”

This is directly contrary to Hammond’s repeated refusal just a day ago to say whether Israel’s shelling of Gaza was “proportionate”.

In a radio interview he said: “What Israel does in Gaza must be proportionate – that’s a requirement of international law. It would not be legal if it was not proportionate.”

Bear in mind James has just been appointed parliamentary private secretary to William Hague, who left the Foreign Office only a few weeks ago, and you get a sense of the pressure building on the government.

James goes on to describe herself as “a firm supporter of Israel” for many years. But the shelling of a UN run school (pictured, above) marked, in her view, “a new low” in the conflict.

Other MPs and even ministers agree with her assessment.

One minister told me they were “really disheartened” by Hammond’s apparent unwillingness to upset Israel.

It’s thought that the Foreign Office is making its concerns felt behind the scenes about the horrendous civilian death toll. But that may not wash with MPs for much longer.

They want public condemnation from Her Majesty’s Government, without further delay.

Below: full text of letter

Dear Philip

I am writing to you on behalf of many constituents who have contacted me to register their despair at the loss of life in Gaza.  My constituents, not all of them Muslim, regard the Israeli action as wholly disproportionate to the threat posed by Hamas.

I have for many years been a firm supporter of Israel.  I remain a supporter of Israel’s right to security, and to a state in which their citizens can live without fear of bombardment.  However I do not think that the swift, and terrible, elimination of so many Palestinian lives, homes, hospitals and schools can be deemed a proportionate response to the crude rocket fire to which Israel is undoubtedly subject.

I have visited the town of Sderot and understand, and sympathise with, the concerns, frustrations and fears, of an Isreali community living close to the border with Gaza.  But the rockets fired by Hamas, that I saw there, are of an antiquated nature by comparison with the modern weaponry used by Israel to defend their civilians against such attacks.  Attacks which are in any case rendered virtually victimless by the air missile defence system that Israel has in place.

I accept, perhaps more so than the constituents on whose behalf I am writing to you, that Hamas bears substantial responsibility for the lives lost on both sides.  It seems that the original killings of the three young Israeli men was their doing.  Neutral observers confirm that Hamas, and related factions, fire their rockets from, and maintain their weapons within civilian areas, and worse still, from hospitals and schools.  Likewise the network of tunnels under the border have been built in areas of dense population.  This deliberate use of the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians as, in effect, human shields has undoubtedly made it difficult for Israel to avoid the loss of civilian life.

However, given the sophisticated surveillance systems accessible to the Israeli army surely we could have expected far fewer civilian casualties from these operations?  The shelling of a UN run school, being used as a shelter in Gaza, two days ago, in which fifteen people died, marked a new low in a conflict which has seen a truly terrible level of death and destruction in a very short space of time.

Israel makes the point that Hamas has refused several Israeli offers of a ceasefire; even when tabled by neutral players like Egypt.  However, it should be acknowledged that Israel has also rejected, out of hand, proposals made by the United States that would not only have enabled a ceasefire, but would also have re-started the peace process. The US proposals would have brought all players in this tragic confrontation to the table.  I think that these US proposals are worthy of consideration.  We have seen with Isis in Iraq and Syria that there may well be forces within the Middle East, more extreme and violent than Hamas. 

To conclude I ask that the government rethinks policy towards the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories.  The scale of suffering in Gaza is far too great, the loss of life, and particularly the lives of children and other vulnerable individuals, cannot be justified on the grounds of defence in proportion to the level of threat faced by Israel from Hamas.  I also think that we should make it clear that it is unacceptable for Israel to just dismiss US proposals for peace without any debate whatsoever. 

I will end by wishing you and your diplomatic staff well in your endeavours to help bring about a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragic conflict.

Kind regards,

Margot

Margot James MP

Member of Parliament for Stourbridge

PPS to the Rt Hon William Hague MP, Leader of the House

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86 reader comments

  1. Chomskian says:

    That this letter is considered to be a game-changer is proof positive of just how shamefully uneven Britain, the EU and especially the US, is towards decades of Israeli atrocities and occupation and land-theft.

    Firstly, it’s been proven that Hamas was NOT behind the killings of the three settler children in the West Bank. Secondly, there is no proof that Hamas uses human shields; the opposite is true. Israel been caught red-handed using human shields. Thirdly, Hamas may maintain crude rocket stores in urban areas and fire them from those areas but that is because the Strip is such a tiny ghetto that very few areas are *not* considered amongst civilian population. The IDF headquarters are in Tel-Aviv, surrounded by hospitals, apartments and the like, would we deem it fair if the Palestinians blew it up, sending shrapnel everywhere and killing and hurting civilians?

    1. nusimaloo says:

      Well said… the comment makes a nonsense of Israeli excuses

    2. SteveHC says:

      “Chomskian” – You DO realize that your posted comment causes you to appear to be a genuinely irrational crackpot who invents all manner of artificialities, right?

      1. Fred Roberts says:

        SteveHC is clearly throwing mud in the hope that it sticks. He is probably one of the IDF-paid students working the social media (as can be spotted in his second comment, a rather desparate attempt to play the ‘Islam bogeyman’ card). He makes no rational argument against either of Chomskian’s points that Hamas :-

        – was NOT behind the killings of the three settler children (admitted by Israeli security)
        – does NOT use human shields (yet Israel has been caught doing this)
        – can’t avoid being near civilians because Gaza is the world’s most concentrated open prison

        Dolan delve correctly points out Israel is simply executing a horrific and Nazi-like collective punishment of Gaza because they had the audacity to elect a government Israel doesn’t like.

        Michael O’Neill’s comment connecting the dots showing that in fact Israel’s own Mossad may have been responsible for the three teen deaths as a false flag allowing Israel to ramp up its butchery in Gaza to the next level was probably more astute than most imagine.

      2. SteveHC says:

        Mr. Roberts, I quite simply have a policy of not responding to Internet trolls or posters espousing obviously bizarre or otherwise outlandishly false “conspiracy theories.”

      3. layla says:

        I wonder who the crackpot is?

    3. Angela says:

      I agree with you totally. Sometimes I feel like the Government and the BBC are on another planet when they’re commenting on this. Bending so far backwards to cater to the Israeli government during a time of disproportionate Israeli atrocities. I’m normally proud to be British but their pandering responses make me embarrassed to live in such a weak sounding country. The Russian backed militants shooting down that aircraft was dreadful but the equivalent number of innocents are being slaughtered every day and where is the outrage? Where are the sanctions? Where is the punishment? Disgraceful and shaming for the whole world.

      1. MCF says:

        Have the investigations in the MH17 plane being concluded?

        I wouldn’t be so quick to accuse the pro-Russian rebels of the shooting before the investigations have finished because it is really not that clear at all who shot the missile (if it was a missile). Besides, what was that plane doing over a war zone anyway?

        It amazes me to no end that the US managed to gather so much information from satellites about this plane at lightning speed when they didn’t manage to gather much information at all from the case of the MH370. In fact it almost looked like they weren’t that keen to find it after all. Strange things isn’t it?

    4. Antony Showman says:

      No land theft, Palestinians have no legitimate claims to land. Hamas are occupiers and there is plenty of proof that they use human shields. Israel and the west will defeat Islamic extremism just like Nazism

      1. Fred Roberts says:

        Here’s Jimmy Carter (a rare decent US President) http://youtu.be/uvtC_qzHVM4 explaining the crux of the problem is nothing to do with the fiction of any Islam bogeyman, rather: simple Israeli greed. This was before the current horrific escalations but its illuminating.

        Quotes:
        – What is being done to the Palestinians is horrendous, in their own territory, by an occupying power
        – Israel has taken all the basic human rights of the Palestinians as was done in South Africa against blacks.
        – This Apartheid is based on the desire of a minority of Israelis to acquire land belonging to Palestinians; retain that land and exclude Palestinians from their own property
        – And subjugate them so that they can’t arouse and demonstrate their disapproval of being robbed of their own property.

      2. Beau says:

        That’s just dumb and illogical.

      3. layla says:

        Mr. Antony Showman, would you please explain it to me how come 1.8 million people (before the recent Israeli attack of course ) live in the open prison in Gaza? Where did they come from?

    5. a.albert says:

      THE HUMAN SHIELD ;IS USED INTENTIONALLY BY ISRAEL ALL
      THE TIME, IN THE WEST BANK..
      THERE ARE MILES OF FOOTAGE ON THOSE ,CRIMINAL ACTS ,WHEN
      THE ISRAELI SOLDIERS USED TO FORCE A PALESTINIAN CHILD ,SIT
      ON THEIR ARMORED VEHICLE ,TO PROTECT IT FROM THE STONES,
      OF THE INTIFADA,OR MANIFESTATION.
      ALSO THE IDF. WHEN THEY WANTED AT ANY TIME,TO RAID A PALESTINIAN,HOUSE;THEY USED TO OBLIGE A PALESTINIAN BOY ,TO
      WALK IN FRONT OF THEM ;AND PUSH THE DOOR OF THE PALESTINIAN,FAMILY…!!!
      THIS IS ,AN ISRAELI CRIMINAL WAY,OF THE OCCUPIERS.
      I AM NOT A SUPPORTED OF HAMAS,AND NOT OF ISRAEL.
      BUT HAMAS IS A RETAIL ,TERRORIST.!!!
      WHILE ISRAEL IS A WHOLE SALE TERRORIST.
      THE PROPAGANDIST, WHO SAY HAMAS , IS TAKING ITS OWN PEOPLE,
      AS HUMAN SHIELDS ,IS ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS.
      THE CRIMINAL,REPETITIVE ACT OF ISRAEL IS UNPRESENTED.
      AND THE COVER UP,OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT ;IS TO CARRY
      THE MAJOR RESPONSIBILITY,OF IT’S BETRAYAL OF THE PALESTINIAN
      PEOPLE ,SINCE THEY WERE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THEIR
      MANDATE OF PALESTINE.
      STILL BRITAIN, IS CLOSING IT’S EYES,!!!!!AND HIDING BEHIND
      THE SCENES,AND BETRAYING ALSO ,THEIR OWN PEOPLE.

  2. John B Sheffield says:

    I have been a member of the Conservative Party since I was 18, but no longer will I be supporting the party, no way can I accept the stance on Gaza, and the complete backing of Israel, No way will I move to UKIP, can’t support Labour or LibDem, so I will not be voting, 62% of UK public feel Israel have gone too far this time in a YouGov Poll this week, how sad that our PM and Government are so out of touch.

    Currently I’m being sent non stop tweets from false accounts in Israel, they are so easy to check out, it is the same old IDF propaganda, I understand that the IDF pay such as students to this

    1. Pat says:

      You could consider the Green Party who take a very different line on Israel, and indeed on many other things – they are far from being a one-issue party.

  3. Mark says:

    Leaving aside all other feelings about this horrible situation, I’m puzzled by her first paragraph.

    “I am writing to you on behalf of many constituents who have contacted me…”
    Okay, carry on.
    “My constituents, not all of them Muslim…”
    This obviously means that not all of her constituents are Muslim, but is it any reference back to who has contacted her? What does she mean? Wht even mention it?
    Why has she even brought religion into it? The “Muslim versus Jew” outlook is regarded as very controversial, whatever your own thoughts on the subject might be.

    If we could erase all that has happened since this recent conflict started, would many of her constituents be concerned about Hamas’ declaration to wipe out all Jews? Probably not.

    So she should write that first paragraph without any mention of Muslims.

    1. Nortal says:

      You write:
      “If we could erase all that has happened since this recent conflict started, would many of her constituents be concerned about Hamas’ declaration to wipe out all Jews? Probably not.

      So she should write that first paragraph without any mention of Muslims.”

      I don’t see how the latter follows from the former. Quite the opposite, in fact. Hamas (which declares itself in its Covenant as a branch of the Islamic Brotherhood) views the conflict as a religious war (that’s also clearly stated in the Covenant), not as a political/territorial conflict. This is fundamental: territorial disputes can be solved through negotiations & accommodation; religious wars cannot. The fact that those of Ms. Newman’s constituents who wrote to her are “not all of them Muslims” (read “are mostly Muslim”) is important. It shows that this is not the opinion of the British public in general, but mainly of a section of that public who feel a sense of tribal solidarity with one side of the conflict. Such solidarity is emotional and independent of objective facts. For instance, ALL the 60-odd countries members of the Organisation of Islamic States ALWAYS vote against Israel at the UN, irrespective of what the debate is about. It would be ridiculous in the extreme if British foreign policy were influenced by ‘tribal’ groupthink. On average, honest non-tribally affiliated members of the British would have to agree that, had a terrorist organisation bomb Liverpool with rockets launched from the Isle of Man, British Armed Forces would invade and occupy the island, in order top stop the rocket bombardment. HM Government would NOT agree that Liverpudlians should live in bomb shelters and would not wait until one of the rockets manages to cause large enough numbers of casualties. Any civilian casualties resulting from the invasion of the Isle of Man (and there certainly would be MANY such casualties, as there were in Iraq & Afghanistan), would rightly be blamed on the terrorists who started the conflagration in the first place.

  4. Bob says:
  5. Dolan delve says:

    The slaughter in Gaza is collective punishment by Israel for the imprisoned people electing Hamas! Government can dress it anyway they like this is MASS MURDER and UK Government are COMPLICIT IN THESE BARBARIC ACTS BY CONDONING ISRAEL false claims!! Disgusting UN shouted down by VETO who is wielding the CARDS?! SHAMELESS WORLD!!

    1. Lee says:

      I agree 100% my friend.

  6. Adam Katz says:

    Really is that the best you can come up with- a complete non- entity – at least you are spreading it all around your correspondents- embarrassing ! Impartial channel 4

  7. Julia says:

    Thank you, Ms James. One could say that a reaction from European countries is very late given that there are already about 1400 deaths to mourn, but it’s better late than never. The international community has to do evrything in its power to end the suffering and the killing of innocent children and civilizians a.s.a.p. Much more important than determining who is to blame or who is to blame more, the Israeli government or the Palestinians, is making a united, concentrated effort to stop the bloodshed. Furthermore, is it really possible to determine who is the chief responsible for this human catastrophe? I wish there were more explicit condemnations of this violent conflict from all European countries. I also wish the US would stop to deliver arms to Israel for it is very contradictory to demand a ceasefire and deliver weapons at the same time. When will the French, the Spanish, the German and the Italian governments react? We are supposed to be in civilized Europe, how can we just do nothing and tolerate that hundreds of innocent children get injured and killed? They could be our children and we would want the world to step in and protect them if we could not!

  8. M Blue says:

    The media’s inability to correctly show what is happening with the Arab Israeli conflict over the previous few years along with the latent anti-semitism with in the population is now starting to show up on the street. I think at this time it would be best for all the Jews to leave and they can be replaced by the muslims who I am sure will make an equally valuable contribution to your society. You will get what you deserve. History has shown what happens when countries force their Jews to leave. By not being supportive and allowing violence against them on your streets will be repaid over the next 3 to 4 decades. Eurabia here we come.

  9. Jimmy Hughes says:

    Long time since I read a piece that was so wet and full of inaccuracy and propaganda. Classic politician who should know her history and know better. Just another victim of the decades of mis information that Israel have disseminated. She has very obviously not seen the real pics that I have seen and Jon Snow witnessed. If she had she would not be so slimey.
    Israel is much more powerful than she or boss Dave…sadly she will quickly be pulled into line.

  10. Penny Rendall says:

    She’s not that well informed, is she, if she thinks Hamas was responsible for killing the three boys, since the Israeli police and security services have both long admitted that it wasn’t. Or that any neutral organisation has confirmed that Hamas has fired rockets from schools or hospitals (though UNRWA says they’ve *stored* rockets in schools that have been abandoned because of the bombing). And it’s very hard to see how tunnels could be built anywhere but under areas of dense population in Gaza – except near the border, as Palestinians have been forcibly removed from a strip all along the border. Still, I suppose we shouldn’t quibble, since she’s at least taking a stand on the disproportionality of the slaughter.

  11. Noisy Tappet says:

    When MP Margot dutifully visited Sderot I bet she wasn’t told how this Israeli township was built on the lands of a Palestinian village called Najd, whose inhabitants were put to flight and their homes destroyed by Jewish-Zionist terrorists just before the state of Israel was declared.
    They fled to nearby Gaza. The irony is that their dispossessed grandchildren, proabably still living a rotten life in one of the refugee camps, could be among those firing garden-shed rockets into their old homeland.

    That Margot’s is the first voice raised in (half-hearted) protest after the long-running carnage, not just this year but last decades, shows what a morally sick bunch the Conservative Party are.

    1. a.albert says:

      Britain;should carry most of the guilt,and suffering of Palestinians,on its’s shoulders.
      britain ,betrayed it’s commitment and honour ,by failing to protect the Palestinian
      people during their mandate , of Palestine.
      What we see now;is the continuation of the betrayal. I would take britain to the
      international courts first; and plead the righteous cause of the Palestinians.
      Israel .stole the land ,and killed ,expulsed more than half of the population,with
      the blessing of GREAT BRITAIN.
      Enough is Enough.

      1. joshua rowe says:

        Not really

        In the 20th century, when the Arabs began rioting etc, Britain (the Peel Commission, 1937) did offer to split the land into two states (the ‘two-states’ solution) whereby areas mainly populated by Arabs would become an Arab state (there was no such thing as a Palestinian people until a few years ago) and those mainly populated by Jews, a Jewish state. The Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs refused

        Similarly, in 1947 the United Nations offered a similar two-state solution which the Jews accepted and Arabs refused

        When Israel captured the territories in 1967 – after a 3rd war for survival (and long before there was an occupation or settlements) it immediately offered to return them in exchange for peace. This the Arabs refused they wanted the land but not the peace

        So it is certainly not Britain’s (or Israel’s) fault

        Palestinian belligerency is at fault

  12. ubaid rahman says:

    The government has shown how little they disregard palestinian lives, only because they are muslim. How can a country take the side of Israel when they act like nazis. They show complete disregard for international law but they exist purely as a result of Britain and USA. The UK makes itself responsible for every death in palestine by its silence it’s trade with israel and it’s weapons supply.

  13. Philip Edwards says:

    Cathy,

    I am ashamed of my country, that we can put mass-murdering scum like Cameron, Hague, Blair, Clegg, Cable, Milliband and Balls in positions of leadership.

    None of these disgusting individuals could give a hoot about murdered Palestinian innocent children and adults old and young. Or in Ukraine, where, guess what, everything’s gone quiet in Brit mainstream media despite non-stop mass murder by pro-Washington Kiev Nazis.

    And it’s going to get much worse. In the last few days Parliament warmongers have called for an increase in “defence spending” against a “Russian attack” on Europe. How much more insane can these people get? Why are they trying to promote another Cold War?

    The British establishment is one of the most craven and cowardly in the world. It is riven top to bottom in business and civil service with hypocrites and propagandists without a gram of humanity or decency between them.

    Shame on Britain for tolerating these lowlives and their murderous actions. They are accessories before, during and after the fact.

    1. Bill T says:
    2. Marian Cohen says:

      What I don’t understand is why the obsession is only with what Israel is doing and not Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan etc. etc. where innocent lives are being lost every day in much higher numbers. It doesn’t make it better but where are your protests over those countries? Until you protest to the same degree about these atrocities then I can’t take you all seriously and have to question your motivations.

      1. Beau says:

        Are you for real??? Sorry I can’t take you seriously… are you one of the Zionist paid trolls?

        Whilst all of those countries have suffered US/Western interference and regime change. As far as I’m aware, none are suffering under Zionist policy of genocide, ethnic cleansing and land theft.

        Long live Palestine…

  14. Blake Alcott says:

    Jon Snow has just done a good job while interviewing Alistair Burt of exposing the abjectly pro-Israeli stance of the British government. However, he did not mention that Mr Burt is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.

  15. Jorh Bloombergh says:

    As long as oil is in the hands of Arabs there will not be mercy to the Palestinians.

  16. Bob Mountfort says:

    If it is feasible and right to take the soccer World Cup from Russia because of its activities in Ukraine it is more than right to understand that Israel is NOT in Europe and in the light of their unacceptable attacks on Palestinians both in Gaza and on the West Bank Israel MUST be BANNED from entering any European competitions, whether it be Soccer, Eurovision Song Contest or other European events.

  17. Beau says:

    For the same reasons above, I will no longer support the Conservatives in any way and will actively campaign against them.

    Their slavish attitude to US bidding, distorts our independence and makes us complicit as war criminals.

    Our abject surrender of any foreign policy area – Ukraine or Gaza has left us on the wrong side of history, as well inexorably slide into WW3 on the coat tails of moral and financially bankrupt US.

    To rub salt into the wound our government has put up the white flag and the surrenders of agri industry to Monsanto and the economic butt rape of our economy by US whoreporations, is stain on our nation and any last vesitige of independent sovereignty.

    Tory no more.

  18. colinvj says:

    Yes i too am disgusted with our government, I think this is partly due to these strong jewish groups set up around the world by isreal, to influence countries views to give them favour, in other words corruption

  19. Jan says:

    The strength of feeling about the government’s stance on Gaza can be seen in an online petition launched by David Ward MP:

    http://davidward.org.uk/en/petition/we-demand-the-british-government-stands-up-for-the-palestinians-now

    In just one week it has collected over 41000 signatures and they are rising by the minute. If it reaches 100000 there will have to be debate in Parliament about it.

  20. Lee says:

    I am horrified at the acts of murder being shown every night against the palistinians. To fire tanks shells over the border into Gaza not knowing where they will land is a act of murder, and against international law. I look forward to all the the people in Israel responsible to face a international court and punishment. I think for many years to come Israel will face the whirlwind.

  21. Joshua Rowe says:

    joshua rowe
    31 July 2014 7:45pm

    Recommend
    0

    May i suggest that we stop lecturing Israel – who is only doing what we would be doing (remember 2nd world war / Kosovo / Iraq / Afghanistan – with large numbers of civilian causalities?)

    There is a very simple solution to this war (and casualties) and it comes from those who started it

    Hamas should abandon its charter (to destroy the tiny Jewish state), dismantle its rockets and tunnels and declare a willingness to live in peace alongside Israel. When that happens, there will be no war, no casualties and no blockade

    That is where the pressure should be directed

  22. Ian Thatcher says:

    Once one writes acceptance of Israel’s ‘right to security’ then one has to accept the disproportionate response as this is how Israel justifies its mass murder in high profile attacks such as brought forth this letter and in the more overlooked constant blockade. So the situation is pretty hopeless as the major Western powers will not withdraw their monetary and verbal support of Israel’s ‘right to security’. At the root of the problem lies a racist state (any state that defines citizenship by ethnicity has to be racist) that can so easily flout international law. Well done the Latin American nations that withdraw their representatives from Israel.

  23. B Fox says:

    It does seem that in this world of precision guided… rhetoric, something has clearly gone wrong on the side of the Israelis.

    Similarly, Hamas have indirectly hit their targets; the rest of the world by the images of so many lives needlessly lost.

  24. Kamran says:

    David Cameron and his cabinet have demonstrated themselves as the most gutless, heartless and careless individuals with no sense for humanity.
    They are absolute embarrassment to our nation.
    Shame on you David Cameron.

  25. henry chalder says:

    Jon Snow legend reporter telling the truth. Most ppl in UK find Israeli action repugnant. Something has to be done with this Israel lobby grp interfering with our democracy must cease

    1. Antony Showman says:

      Most people understand Israel is defending herself and her citizens from terrorists who don’t want it to exist. Israel is the only democracy in Middle East and should be commended for fighting Islamic Extremism

      1. MCF says:

        ‘Most people understand Israel is defending herself and her citizens from terrorists who don’t want it to exist’

        From where I am standing most people feel that Israel is using the excuse of defending herself to exercise exaggerate force over Palestinians, expel them from their own homes and take their rightful land. Funnily enough, Israel doesn’t accept the right that the Palestinians have of defend themselves from the oppressor and the unwanted occupation. Double standards?

  26. Scott says:

    Boycott israel. Because if you don’t, you have no humanity. Virtually every country in the World is questioning this barbaric activity by Israel.

    Do not buy anything made in Israel. Let them feel what it feels like to live in an embargo. Same treatment they provided to the Palestinians.

  27. barbara says:

    I work in the community and in my travels around my local area this week I have found the mood among ordinary people of all ages to be very gloomy and a great deal of sadness about what is going on in the middle east. Ordinary people only want to live their lives in peace and everyone I speak to is asking what the politicians in this country are doing about this crises. My own children have been showing their children how families in Gaza are suffering because they feel that they should know what’s going on’ even though they can’t explain how inhumane man can be.

  28. Christine Bardsley says:

    Chomskian’s admirably clear rebuttal of three of Israel’s most blatant lies about Hamas is spot on. It is depressing to see UK MPs’ constant parroting of Israeli propaganda – whether it is due to ignorance, cowardice or hypocrisy I do not know; what I do know is that like John Sheffield above I will not be voting Conservative again if they persist in this collusion with Israel and neither will many of my friends. Most of us live in marginal constituencies – if nothing else maybe that will give Cameron and & co pause to think.

  29. Chris C says:

    I would like to see the UK offer Gazan children and families the equivalent of the ‘Kindertransport’ we operated for Jewish children in the build up to WWII.

  30. Keith says:

    If nothing else, it exposes the crass stupidity of David Cameron to sack a competent Foreign Secretary at a time of crisis not only in the Middle East, but also in Ukraine.

    We have poor coverage by BBC of what is happening in Gaza, thank God for Channel 4.

    I am appalled by what is happening in Gaza, and the craven attitude of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to Israel.

    Not only should we be condemning Israel, we should be stopping all arms sales and shipments and calling for sanctions against this rogue state.

    Please sign the Open Letter calling for those in Israel responsible to be charged with War Crimes.

    http://keithpp.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/we-demand-that-international-criminal-court-charges-benjamin-netanyahu-and-israel-for-war-crimes-against-humanity/

  31. Kas says:

    Israel has just called 16000 reservist to join and continue the onslaught in Gaza and at this same time comes news of this ceasefire?….. I think that this 72 Hour Ceasefire is just another time buying tactic used by the Zionist regime so that they can prepare the 16000 reservist for a more brutal operation. They have done it so many times it is obvious and shouldn’t be ignored.

  32. Sally says:

    Cathy,

    The conduct of our government has been shameful, I can confirm that I will NOT be voting for the conservative party this time round. When we vote, we do it in the hope that we will be represented, that the government we have elected will partake in the values and the ethics that we believe in as citizens. When did we begin to support the mass murder of innocent children? When did we stop speaking up against unjust violence, against crimes and atrocities? Clearly we have now!

    Shameful !!!

  33. Bob says:

    I think a large part of the problem is that the west has in the past has strong trade links with Israel. It does not help that the U.S. have armed them in the past either. It is ridiculous there has not been more intervention from the West and other surrounding countries. There’s an anti Islam mentality that effects the actions of people who could potentially stop the conflict much faster than the ceasefires. There is not enough negotiation and there is too much ignorance.

  34. oriodm says:

    Could we please get some commentary on the allegations of The Times of Israel that western journalists are threatened by Hamas?

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-threatening-journalists-in-gaza-who-expose-abuse-of-civilians/

    I regard C4’s reporting on this conflict as very objective and therefore I would love to know if there is some truth to those accusations.

  35. Ben says:

    A very good example of conceding nothing, being diplomatic but at the same time distancing ones self from potential damage. Unfortunately such callous traits are endemic within organisational structures.

  36. Michael O'Neill says:

    I warmly welcome your questioning of the current official stance of the British Foreign Office towards Israel.

    The lack of recognition of the War Crimes there, of the perversion of the word “Defence” – just as the United States as done – to mean “pre-emptive attack” and the total absence of even compassion for the innocent Palestinian victims of Israel’s actions, never mind calling a spade a space and a War Crime a War Crime, is an affront to the human race.

    The Foreign Office stance comes as no surprise to many Irish people, whose memories reach back into the Sixties and the beginnings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Or whose families’ oral traditions go back deep into the last century and the oppression and atrocities committed by the Black and Tans.

    England, we thought, had moved on since then. We seem to have been wrong. It is time England shakes off the American collar and joins the first rank of nations who are willing to stand up and be counted and reject Israel’s criminality.

    Alas, I do not speak from a moral high ground where my own country Ireland is concerned. Centuries of forelock-tugging seems to have resulted in a brain freeze where War Crimes are are committed and we have not even called the Israeli Ambassador to account.

    Small steps, then.

    One correction:

    Hamas didn’t murder the three Israeli students. Israel has admitted they knew this shortly afterwards. Their reluctance to release this information directly led to the beating and burning alive of a Palestinian youth by a racist mob.

    An interesting aside to this is that the Israelis claimed to know immediately afterwards that it was not Hamas who carried out the deaths of the three students. They speculated about a “rogue cell”.

    The only way they could know Hamas didn’t do it is if they have a mole in Hamas or they control Hamas. And since Hamas (apparently) keep a tight rein on their people, this suggests the rogue cell was Israel – a Mossad team.

    After all, the Israelis needed a pretext for a war. Three lives means nothing to these sociopaths.

  37. N B Kassim says:

    As I see it, Britain has a moral responsibility to protect the Palestinian people, its former colony. Surely Great Britain should provide leadership, be the voice of reason and be the honest broker that the world sorely needed to resolve the Palestinian issue.

  38. Bob Mountfort says:

    Israel and Palestine :Parallels with Russia and the Ukraine

     If, as Israel claims and uses to justify its invasion and occupation of Palestine, it was always their land. Then logically they are Middle Easterners, as are the Arabs of Palestine, Lebanon Jordan et al. By definition they cannot be European. So why is it that they  feel themselves entitled to compete in European events such as football and the Eurovision song  contest? And why should we let them participate? Following on from suggestions that Russia should lose the football world cup. Is it not even more justifiable that in the light of their disproportionate use of force and the murder of so many Palestinian civilians, including many women and children, that Israel should be banned from participating in any European event. Let them have Middle Eastern events for Middle Eastern people. 

  39. Aidan Turner says:

    Some questions:-
    1. It is said that the UK supplies arms to Israel. What does it supply and is this supply continuing at the moment?
    2. What other Commercial arrangements are licensed or underwritten by the UK Government, through the Export Guarantee scheme for example?
    3. Why has there been no debate at the Security Council or General Assembly of the U.N.?
    4. How many UK citizens (other than Media) are living and working in Gaza? What Consular assistance is available to them?
    5. How is the situation(apart from the Hamas Rockets) different to the Serb shelling of Sarajevo?

  40. Peter Davis says:

    Ironic that it was Prussian mentality that liquidated millions of Jews, now that same mentality applied to Palastine.

  41. Fred Roberts says:

    It’s one of the myths pushed by Israel that they are fighting back hordes of muslims – the Zionist lobby especially uses this narrative to generate fear amongst the masses in Europe, where there are sizeable muslim populations to scare the general population with. The angle pushed is that Israel is doing us a favour.

    Throw enough mud and some will inevitably stick, however the truth is simply that Israel is picking up where the old Wild West cowboys left off. They want to steal land of the natives and then get rid of the natives; out of sight, out of mind. It’s the only place in the world that the colonialism and racism mix is alive and well.

    And the sad thing is that we in the West have been happy to collude with these people, treating Israelis as if they are civilised people, and turning a blind eye to the slaughter of thousands. A 7-year old child in Palestine has survived three major Israeli bombing operations. The average age of a Palestinian is a mere 17 years old.

    We need to say enough is enough and boycott this evil nation like we did South Africa during its own Apartheid era. Sadly I don’t see many anti-apartheid pop concerts this time round. For those that want to avoid contributing their money towards the killing of children, take a visit to http://www.palestinecampaign.org/ where you can find out more about the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction (BDS) initiative.

    As for Margot James’ offhand comment about her constituents being not all muslim – this is a strange thing to say. If she means that she disregards someone’s viewpoints simply because they happen to be muslim, then I guess they ought not vote for her in future.

  42. MCF says:

    This letter may be a start, but I do find it very sad and hopeless that this MP feels the needs to send this letter to make others aware of what people feels. This is clearly saying that or our PM is totally oblivious to reality or he simply doesn’t care what his voters think because it clashes with his other interests.

    I am disgusted and saddened that the UK did not cast a vote when the UN’s Human Rights Council voted on a motion on “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem“ I feel that this attitude showed a complete disregard for what the people in this country feels and I certainly do not feel represented by this people. I do not care what the rest of Europe decided.

    I find sickening that the world see the progressive invasion that Israel is doing with the use of extreme force and they are doing absolutely nothing to stop it. I feel that all those countries, and sadly including ours, are accomplices of the war crimes, genocide, abuse and invasion that is being committed by Israel. Not in my name!

    Today, the US president was demanding the Israeli soldier, allegedly captivated by Hamas to be liberated. Why didn’t he not demand with the same intensity Israel to stop the mass killings when they started? Is it because Israeli soldiers lives count more than those of Palestinians, or Israeli families suffer more than Palestinians for their loved ones?

    What about our own politicians? Do they think all those killings are fair? Do they think the Israeli illegal settlements that keep growing and Israeli occupation of Palestine land is fair?

  43. Carol Anderson says:

    The killing of the civilians especially shelling of areas where kids are is totally barbaric the conflict in Gazza is becoming another genocide with innocents being killed for no other reason that pride the pride that tells Israel and Hamas not to back down if Israel had not been helped by the Western world they would that have the force or power they do it’s about time that the United Nations stepped in and mark a fair and reasonable boundary in Gaza one which allows both the Palestinians and Israelis to live peaceful fulfilling lives Stop This Suffering

  44. Owen Carpenter says:

    Am I getting naive or MP Margot James’ letter goes further than answering her constituent’s emotion?

    Now, what can she achieves if she really believes well proven propaganda-based lies such as:
    « neutral players like Egypt »
    « seems that the original killings of the three young Israeli men was [Hamas] doing »

    Also /me agree with most previous comments, of which Aidan Turner’s questions.

  45. JP56 says:

    Like many of my generation brought up in the post war period I have a great sympathy for the Jewish people due to their horrendous suffering during WW2. An extension of this was support for the state of Israel especially in 1967 & 1973. This support for the Israeli state has been diminishing since the early 1980’s as they appear to have become more strident and willing to deal out harsh and disproportionate punishment to much weaker opponents. The recent conflict in Gazza is the first time I can ever say that I have felt a degree of anger at Israel for the killing of civilians especially children.
    The Israeli rationale for the latest attack on Gazza is:
    to try and reduce Israeli casualties from Hammas rockets – I do beleive that more Israeli’s have been killed during this campaign than in the previous 5 years.
    to try and destroy Hammas – Israel must realise that every father, mother or child killed by an Israeli shell is only pushing far more young disaffected Palestinians towards Hammas and away from the moderate representatives who we would all like to see wield more influence.
    The media’s attempts at even handed reporting (Channel 4 news, excepted) have not reflected the disproportionate scale of attacks and suffering and have made newscasters appear to value Israeli’s lives above Palestinians lives.
    The British governments response has also made many like me angry – trying also to be ‘even handed’ when the killing is so disproportionate lacks any moral judgement. It also lacks any political judgement because if people with my background feel anger and resentment not only with the Israeli governments actions and the British Governments response how is this going to play out amongst people who are naturally less sympathetic to Israel and the west in general. I fear that the governments unwillingness to criticise Israel’s actions could increase the risk of terrorism to all UK citizens.

  46. blogiston says:

    If it were Israeli women and children contained in a Gaza-type prisoner of war camp, being murdered by an Arab regime, there would be shouts of holocaust and the atrocities suffered by the Jews in world war two, and quite rightly so.
    Civilised people all over the world need to press both sides to arrive at a two-state solution – nothing short of this will lead to genocide of the Palestinians.

  47. SteveHC says:

    Clearly England, the UK, and most non-Muslim posters here have already been co-opted into their own demise. This situation is not one of Israel vs. Palestinians; it is not even merely one of Israel vs. Hamas. It is one of ancient Islam and its religious terrorism vs. democracy and western civilization, plain and simple. For an interesting take on matters as they pertain to to UK private and financial enterprise see http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4566/islamist-hsbc-banking .

  48. joshua rowe says:

    I am afraid I cannot agree with Ms James MP

    The deaths in Gaza (on both sides) are tragic of course

    But the blame lies entirely with the Hamas terrorists who started this war (and every war)

    Pressure should be put on Hamas to stop the carnage and suffering which they have caused (whilst their leadership is hiding in bunkers) – not on Israel

    Attempts to pressurise Israel is another way of encouraging Hamas belligerence and violence

  49. Gidon Stemmer says:

    Disproportionate … I do chuckle. Just look at the collective figures of civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia … And all these without one random rocket aimed on London. And, still in living memory, 30,000 German civilians in ONE night in Dresden.
    Israel does it’s best to target rocket sites and tunnels. The fact that Hamas surround these legitimate targets with women and children is the real crime in this tragedy.

  50. Jamie Moryoussef says:

    Israel did not start this war. Israel did not start the 1948, 1967, 1973 wars. Each time it was attacked by its neighbours. Each time it successfully defended itself. Each time people died.
    Hamas in their charter say they want to drive the Jews into the sea. Israel makes no mention of attacking it’s neighbours in its charter instead it talks of defending it’s people. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Hamas is a terrorist organisation.
    People dying is horrific, War is horrific. What choice do Israel have when Hamas have amassed thousands of rockets and built hundreds of tunnels with the sole intention of oilling Israelis. Should Israel sit and wait for it’s civilians to die or should they proactively defend them?

  51. Anthony Stern says:

    The situation in Gaza is tragic.

    However those who criticize Israel overlook the following facts that
    1. Israel has not occupied Gaza for many years
    2. The Israeli government have a responsibility to protect the millions of Israeli citizens who are under daily attack in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Kfar Saba, Sderot
    3. Margot James’ comment that Hamas’ rocket are unsophisticated is irrelevant. Unsophisticated weapons can kill e.g. suicide bombers
    4. Hamas do not want peace. They want the destruction of Israel
    5. If you support Hamas you may as well support ISIS and Al-Queda they all have similiar goals. Destroy the west and the infidels.

    This is a war between civilizations. Unfortunately the Israeli government cannot sit by until the western public wake up to this fact as by then it will be too late.

  52. M Khan says:

    When the government will rethink their attitude towards people of former colonies some they sold and others they left in limbo. When they deliver sermon on human rights they seems to be talking from high moral ground but is that the case. They should change the policy of pre crusaders time and rethink it. Elections are next years and people will vote for those who care for humanity not those who care for their beloved at the price of whole scale slaughter by Zionists.

  53. Norman A. Smith says:

    Two elephants in this room- both financially powerful, Zionist and difficult to pin down! (clue- try London or New York). After reading (3/7) the foregoing comments, I am amazed (and disappointed) not to find ANY reference to the Balfour Declaration (1917), (made at a time in WW1 when the outcome of it was uncertain, and co-incidentally when the US entered that war), in which the British Foreign Secretary stated (writing to Lord Rothschild, Chairman of the British Zionist Federation), that ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’. See Hutchinson’s New 20th Century Encyclopedia (my reprint 1975) under Balfour Declaration and Chaim Weizmann. ps I shall complete 90 years next month.

  54. Beau says:

    Hamas is a symptom of this problem – not a cause. Hamas is 27 years old. The problem 65 years old. It is the supreme focus of the Israelis’ excuses. Before Israel was even formed, Palestine gave voluntary refuge to about 700,000 Jews after world war 1 – hardly anti -Semetic. It was then the United Nations enforced the formation of the new Israel in a nation that understandably didn’t want it! No it’s not totally one sided – a bit like a fight between a teaspoon and a ladle isn’t totally one-sided.

    Proof of genocide and why:

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Into-the-fray-Why-Gaza-must-go-368862

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=667714

  55. Meghan Nova says:

    Bring Israel in front of the International Criminal Court for war crimes
    Support: http://www.sgoal.org/Bring-Israel-in-front-of-the-International-Criminal-Court-for-war-crimes

  56. daniel stern says:

    i dont understand why many of you are not joining up the dots here and seeing what is happening?

    Hamas are a terrorist organisation FACT they are bound by their charter to destroy all jews (not just Israel) FACT they are antisemitic and ergo anyone who supports them is too FACT they deliberatley target civilians FACT they use civilians as shields and prevent them by force from evacuating areas Israel has warned on 4 seperate occasions will be bombed FACT

    why do you all seem so vitriolic in your support of terror? Hamas supporters are the very same people who celebrated 9/11 and 7/7. Do you want to support them or does your hatred of israel (or jews) overtake that? Those who do not support Israel now in fighting terror will find it on their doorstep tomorrow.

  57. NB Kassim says:

    Every thinking Englishman who values justice, freedom and equality should have the Palestine issue on his conscience. The British started it in 1917 through the Balfour Declaration and then walked away from it by handing the problem to the UN to settle.

    How come Lord Balfour and Her Majesty Government of 1917 could not foresee the tragic impact of the Balfour Declaration on Palestine and the Middle East?

    Let me quote Mahatma Gandhi on this issue :

    In 1938 Gandhi wrote, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct …”

    How come one man like Gandhi can foresee the problem and Lord Balfour and the whole of Her Majesty Goverment could not or would not. Does Britain have one set of values on justice, equality and freedom for the English people and none for their former colonies.

    It takes political will on the part of world leaders to enforce a just solution on both parties. UN is toothless. Their officials can only beg and plead or cry . Journalists like Snow can only produce heart rending videos that are soon forgotten. USA is blinkered and blind sided . Only Britain and EU can do it.

  58. Adam says:

    To a Albert
    Where do you get your information from – dandy or the beano- your an embarrassment to Great Britain – take your lies and vitriol to Bradford where you can join your pal galloway- may I recommend that you engage with the eminent and widely respected historians Gilbert and schama to learn the facts around the history of the ISRAELITES and the STATE of ISRAEL -and calm down a bit as you’ ll give yourself a coronary!

  59. Bob Mountfort says:

    Oh Joshua of so much mis information. My father served with the RAF as part of the Mandate for Palestine. I have occupation and other coinage from that period clearly marked in English and Arabic with the word PALESTINE some 1927. Perhaps you should read, “Benny Morris, The Road to Jerusalem: Glubb Pasha, Palestine and the Jews, ISBN 1-86064-812-6.” Written by one of your own to see who reneged on every agreement that was posited in regard to settlement and the concessions offered on the Palestinian’s behalf. And maybe Daniel could do a little reading on Wikipedia about Hammas and how while their original charter called for the elimination of Israel it is no longer a genuine clause but remains for historical reasons only.
    Ignorance is no excuse for your zealotry. We will only find peace by putting aside the lies and searching for the truth. Your ignorance matches that of Flat Earth Creationists. Shalom.

    1. joshua rowe says:

      sorry you cannot manage without insults

      I have read Benny Morris’s revisionist book and it is flatly contradicted by virtually every historian and by those who lived through that period (you will also know that he has resiled from much of what he wrote then)

      Glubb Pasha was the commander of the Jordanian forces which invaded Israel in 1948 – so what do you expect him to say?

      I am extremely glad to hear that the Palestinian charter is now ‘inactive’. Perhaps someone should advise Hamas accordingly (or is this why they shoot and throw their Fatah opponents out of high-rise buildings?)

      I fear you may have chosen the wrong side (I doubt you would be allowed to express your views freely under Hamas’s watchful and threatening eyes – they are no angels)

  60. Fred Roberts says:

    So joshua ‘no such thing as a Palestinian people’ rowe has no explanation for the coins from 1927 Palestine?

    Other misinformation from mr rowe can be debunked by listening for a few minutes to Miko Peled, son of a prominent Israeli general who was involved in Israel’s wars (unlike mr rowe I’d guess): http://bit.ly/israeli-generals-son

    Jimmy Carter from personal experience documented how Israel broke every promise from Camp David onwards http://bit.ly/jimmy-carter-iv-truth-israel (4min interview)

    David Norris of the Irish Senate who lived in Israel and is acquainted from the inside explains here how Israel originally created Hamas in order to split the Fatah government aiming to disunite the Palestinians. http://bit.ly/irish-senator-speaks-israel (8min)

    Even the great Albert Einstein ultimately realised the viper that Israel became by 1948 as documented in this open letter to the New York times http://bit.ly/einstein-israel

    It is time for people of conscience all around the world to boycott, disinvest and sanction Israel. No more Eurovision for Israel, too much blood on your hands. Like MacBeth, you’ll never wash it off.

    1. joshua says:

      The coins are from the British Mandate of Palestine

      There has never been a Palestinian nation. It is an invention of the 1960s and 70s In fact, the West bank was Jordan and Gaza was part of Egypt.

      I have heard Miko Peled and have read some of the comments by the persons you have chosen. I am glad that Israel has so few critics / detractors that you are able to memorize them all. Have you come across a country which has no detractors?

      And as for Einstein, please re read what you sent. Einstein is critical of the extremist fringe (and tiny – only a few hundred strong) element called ‘etzel’ which fought the British prior to the creation of the state and was considered an outcast by the main body of Israel.

      In fact the nascent Israel army actually forced them to disarm.

      This is exactly what we should demand that the Palestinians do with their Hamas terrorists!

      1. Fred Roberts says:

        “In fact the nascent Israel army actually forced them to disarm”

        So was that before or after the nascent-israel terrorists murdered british officers and their families at the King David Hotel ? (Sadly the then-government of the UK tucked its tail between its legs and fled instead of capturing, trying and hanging Menachin Begin who later was rewarded for his terrorist activities by being appointed to lead the new nation.)

        That particular terrorist bombing is (despicably) still celebrated in Israel (leading to complaints from the british ambassador in very recent years when it came to his notice).

        With israel its always shoot first and the crocodile tears come later.

      2. joshua rowe says:

        I think we both agree that the action was thoroughly condemned by virtually the whole Jewish population in Palestine (at that time) and, as I mentioned, when Israel was created, in 1948, one of the first acts of the newly created IDF was to disarm the (tiny) group concerned.

        Israel then and Israel today abhors any acts of terror and that is why it and the world demands that Hamas and their sister terror organisations (ISIS/ Al Qaeda/ Hezbolla / Boka haram / Iran / etc) abandon their violence, disarm and live peacefully alongside their neighbours

        Is that asking too much?

        And, btw; (just a point of information), I do not recall the ‘the families’ were there at all. That section of the hotel served as the British military headquarters not as a residential facility.

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