Many of my constituents have been in contact with me over recent days concerning the dreadful situation in both Israel and Gaza. Many people living in Oxford have family and friends in Gaza and in Israel, or have simply been watching events unfold with grave concern about the impact on innocent civilians- first, from the horrendous terrorist attacks on people in Israel, with hundreds of hostages still being held; and now, with Gaza facing a humanitarian emergency.
I have been clear, including on national radio last night, that innocent civilians in Gaza are currently terrified for their lives. Clean water is running out and hospitals are barely able to function, and the terrible scenes we saw of hundreds of people killed at the Baptist hospital cannot be justified.
As I have said publicly repeatedly, it is imperative that international law is upheld. There must be access to water, food, energy and medicines; humanitarian corridors and access must be protected; and aid workers must also be able to deliver aid to those in need.
It is not enough for the world simply to watch; instead the world must act to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
Some constituents have argued to me that the Labour position is to justify the collective punishment of civilians or to prevent civilians from being able to access water, electricity or food. That is wrong – Labour has always argued that Israel has the right to self-defence, but not the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines. You can access a clip of Keir Starmer making this clear here, and calling again for humanitarian aid to come in to Gaza not least for the million children who are in need.
Finally- over the last two weeks it has been awful to see a rise in both Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents. Sadly I know that there is much we still need to do to ensure that everyone in Oxford feels and is safe. I supported the inter-faith statement produced by religious representatives which was released earlier this week, and will continue to do all I can to try and counter hatred and abuse, including maintaining contact with the local police in their work to protect our communities. Our city must be a safe and welcoming place for everyone.