Ceasefire in Gaza

Michael Ellis Excerpts
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Michael Ellis Portrait Sir Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con)
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I say at the outset to any Jewish people listening to this debate anywhere in the world, “You do have friends and allies here in this Chamber.” The SNP motion calling for a unilateral ceasefire by Israel woefully fails to recognise reality. I am sorry to say that the SNP is not interested in a solution that would both safeguard the civilians of Gaza and enable an Israeli victory over Hamas; if the SNP was so motivated, it would, for example, be putting pressure on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing as a refuge, instead of massively strengthening it. But of course, the focus is all on Israel defending itself.

Israel has been through multiple rounds of conflict initiated by the genocidal Hamas terror group in Gaza. The SNP motion, should it achieve its objectives, would cement the prospects of many more such incursions or attacks in the future. That is, of course, exactly what Hamas want: to secure endless opportunities to destroy Israel, granted by the confused logic of that motion. If the terror group is left standing, they will regroup. Hamas say as much. That is not conjecture; they make clear in interviews that they will continue their onslaught. They must not be permitted to continue as a terror statelet.

I regret to inform the House that the political grandstanding that we have seen in some quarters—although not all—will not make an iota of difference. Hamas have no intention of laying down their arms, and Israel, as a fellow democracy, has a responsibility.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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Will the right hon. and learned Member give way?

Michael Ellis Portrait Sir Michael Ellis
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I will not give way just yet. I have to say, I was shocked last night to hear the leader of the SNP accuse Israel of committing war crimes and hear the bandying about of such phrases. This incendiary charge is not borne out by the legality of the situation, and it is not in accordance with the facts. It is worth noting that the ICJ, in its interim ruling, said that Israel has a legitimate right to continue its campaign against Hamas. Let us not forget that all Hamas need to do is to release the hostages, including very small children, and hostilities would cease immediately. Let us not forget the third wave: the thousands of Gazan civilians crossing into Israel during the 7 October attacks. That is why civilians have been able to sell some hostages.

Israel has taken such steps despite being under no international legal obligation to, for example, provide electricity and water to the people of Gaza. It has done so despite the grave security threats posed by Hamas. Of course, Hamas cynically destroyed those very same power lines and water pipes on 7 October, which Israel swiftly repaired.

I notice that the hon. Member for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn) said that condemning Hamas’s attack is omitted from the SNP’s motion because it goes without saying. I am sorry, but at the moment in this country, and in many other countries around the world, it does not go without saying. Considering that since 7 October several thousand antisemitic incidents have been recorded in the United Kingdom, including in Scotland, and that people were celebrating outside the Israeli embassy in London in jubilation at the deaths of a thousand people before the Israel Defence Forces moved in on 7 and 8 October, it does not go without saying. A responsible Government in any jurisdiction is one that uses every opportunity to stand with the victims of heinous terrorist attacks.