Middle East Online, January 14, 2009 - [Editor's note: These are just small excerpts; a fuller account can be found at the link.] Suffice to say that an increasing number of British MPs are disgusted by the mindless destruction in Gaza and the sickening slaughter of innocents, although some still defend the indefensible. Here is a selection of the exchanges in Parliament:
David Miliband: ... .The internationally expressed will of the community of nations has not been followed either by Hamas or by Israel. However, I do not agree that a policy of isolation would help either Britain’s influence or the prospects of peace in the middle east. It is very important that we continue to speak without fear or favour on these issues—that we speak publicly, using occasions such as this, but that we use the opportunity to speak privately as well.
Mr. George Galloway (Respect): The Foreign Secretary is not in favour of the isolation of Israel but he was in favour of the isolation of the Government elected in Palestine, in the only free parliamentary election ever held in any Arab country, because the people voted the wrong way. He joined the siege of the Hamas Government and helped create the desperation that led to the barrage of rockets—largely ineffectual, as he has conceded. Action speaks louder than words. Why will the Government not recall our ambassador from Tel Aviv, ask the Israeli ambassador to leave, and, above all, stop selling British weapons to the mass-murderers who are taking so many lives and limbs in Palestine today?..
Ann Clwyd (Labour): I was present some years ago in Jenin, during the siege of Jenin. I saw then the refusal of the Israelis to allow humanitarian aid to be provided to those who were injured and sick. Now we see that yet again. It is an absolute disgrace that any country that calls itself a democracy refuses to allow the humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to those who are desperately in need. I also think that the exclusion of journalists from the area is totally unacceptable. Were it not for al-Jazeera, we would see no pictures on television of the suffering and destruction taking place in Gaza at present. Will my right hon. Friend make the point that it is essential to allow journalists access?
David Miliband: I agree on both points with my right hon. Friend—the entry of journalists, to which I referred in my statement, and the essential nature of the humanitarian obligations that Israel needs to follow.
Mr. David Winnick (Labour): Would my right hon. Friend accept that the reason why there is such strong emotion in the House of Commons today is that, in the past week, the Israelis have shown total indifference to the suffering and lives of Palestinian civilians, and that some of the Israelis’ actions amount to war crimes against humanity? In those circumstances, is it not clear that a stronger approach is required by Britain, and that it should tell the Israelis that what they are doing is totally unacceptable and an affront to humanity?
David Miliband: My hon. Friend’s diagnosis is right: that is why there is such passion in the House, allied to the fact that the repercussions of conflict in the middle east echo around the world. The truth is that the easiest recruiting sergeant for extremism anywhere in the world is the absence of a Palestinian state... If words brought peace, they would have done so a long time ago, not just in this conflict but in the wider middle east, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to speak loud and clear, publicly and privately...
Mr. Marsha Singh (Labour): Will my right hon. Friend accept that condemnation has brought no relief to the people of Gaza? The killing goes on. Is it not time for stronger action? Is it not time that we expelled the ambassador of Israel and brought our ambassador back from Israel? Is it not time that we called for international sanctions against Israel?