UK shadow foreign secretary calls for 'compassionate intervention' in Gaza

In a letter to Foreign Secretary, David Lammy conveys the critical situation in Gaza as Ramadan begins

British shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. PA
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British shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has written an urgent appeal to Foreign Secretary David Cameron, outlining the catastrophic conditions in Gaza as Ramadan begins.

Mr Lammy, a member of the opposition Labour Party, describes the situation in Gaza as “chronic shortages of food, water and medicine and the healthcare system no longer functioning".

He urged the UK government to initiate “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and to negotiate for the “release of the remaining hostages", asserting the need to create a safe passage and space for Gazans.

The letter, posted on X, insists on the legal and moral imperative for the UK to influence Israel, the “occupying power,” to augment aid flow, and to resume funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency, or UNRWA.

“It is outrageous that aid delivery to Gaza fell by half in February,” Mr Lammy said in the letter.

His correspondence does not neglect the religious implications of the conflict, particularly during a time of significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews.

He called for the preservation of the status quo at holy sites in Jerusalem, notably for Muslims' access to Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site.

Mr Lammy urged that “authorities show respect and restraint, and Muslim worshippers are able to enter Al Aqsa to worship".

Labour leader Keir Starmer initially opposed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza after claiming early in the conflict that "Israel has the right" to withhold power and water in the enclave – a stance that caused him to lose the support of many councillors from mainly Muslim communities.

But his party’s position has shifted over time. Mr Starmer backed a "humanitarian pause" and has since given his support to a sustainable ceasefire.

Last month, Labour put forward an amendment to a parliamentary motion, with the party calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”. The motion was approved in the Commons.

It came after a day of chaos amid accusations that Mr Starmer put pressure on the House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to put the amendment forward to avoid a major rebellion among Labour members.

The party’s motion called for Israel and Hamas to lay down their arms and for all remaining hostages taken by Hamas to be released. It also called for a diplomatic process for achieving a two-state solution and lasting peace.

The UK government has consistently called for a humanitarian pause to ensure the return of hostages and the delivery of life-saving supplies to Gazans.

Its policy has also hardened over time, with Lord Cameron expressing “deep concern about the prospect of a military offensive" in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Updated: March 11, 2024, 8:34 AM