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Hello from The National.

Here are this week’s most compelling and exclusive stories from the UK and Europe.

BIG PICTURE

 

Stop the fighting

When does an exhortation become a policy stance? Today seems set to be that point in Westminster, as MPs prepare to vote on a call for an immediate Gaza ceasefire.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron told the foreign affairs committee on Tuesday night that it was "difficult to see" how Israel would achieve a lawful operation in Rafah as it pursues the Hamas high command.

"We continue to urge Israel to ensure that it limits its operations to military targets and take all possible steps to avoid harming civilians and destroying homes,” Lord Cameron said.

"We do not underestimate the devastating humanitarian impacts that a full ground offensive, if enacted, would have in these circumstances."

Speaking on the road before the letter was released, he was even more pointed.

"We are calling for a stop to the fighting right now," Lord Cameron said. "We think that what we need is a pause in the fighting and the hostages to come out and aid to go in."

A key window for the entire Middle East is looming in these weeks leading up to Ramadan.

A vote in Parliament on Wednesday is initiated by the Scottish National Party, which is raising the stakes, especially for British Labour.

We will have more on Labour's dilemma next week when we look at the coming Rochdale by-election.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, spoke on Tuesday about Labour's proposed amendment, which calls on the UK government to support Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s calls for Hamas to release and return all hostages and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

This means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides.

Prince William has called for an end to the fighting in Gaza, expressing his concern about the “terrible human cost of the conflict” in blunt language for a member of the British royal family.

The heir to the throne commented on the international conflict before the first of two visits to charities in the coming week to acknowledge the suffering caused by the war and the rise in anti-Semitism.

At the British Red Cross's headquarters in the City of London on Tuesday, he joined volunteers and others with direct experience of the fighting and its effects on people displaced and facing hardship.

"I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible," Prince William said in his statement.

"There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It's critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.”

The prince, who has taken on more duties after King Charles's cancer diagnosis, is also scheduled to attend a synagogue discussion next week with young people from different communities to talk about anti-Semitism.

Damien McElroy
London bureau chief

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Eclipse of a rising star?

A British–Palestinian activist intent on taking on a senior Labour politician at the next general election said she is tapping into anger about his stance on Gaza, and hopes a national movement of independent candidates will create real change.

Leanne Mohamad is running against Wes Streeting after being selected to run by a local community group that is opposed to the Labour leadership’s decision not to call for an immediate ceasefire in fighting between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.

The Ilford North constituency has been held by Mr Streeting since 2015 and he has a majority of about 5,000.

It has a Muslim population of 23 per cent, which puts it outside the top 20 constituencies with the highest number of adherents to the faith.

Ms Mohamad said in her view Labour has been "out of step" with public opinion since the start of the fighting.

"It's taken five months before they've even considered calling for an immediate ceasefire {which] shows just how untenable their position has been," she said.

"It's only because of pressure by campaigners such as myself and the millions of protesters that the message appears to have got through."

 

Anniversary of a cataclysm

Two years ago this week Russia invaded Ukraine, starting an uprooting of lives across Europe that had not been seen in 80 years.

Six million people fled their Ukrainian homeland, with some reaching the far ends of the Earth. Others flooded into the country to help.

Ewan Cameron from Scotland is one and he is still there. Mr Cameron first went to Ukraine a month after the war broke out to help rescue a friend but the tragic scenes he witnessed made him want to stay and help.

He set up charity ReactAid to bring in vital supplies and to help evacuate injured soldiers, working with trauma medics he met through a mutual desire to help.

Ewan and his colleague Craig Borthwick, a former counter-terrorism officer, take on more daring roles than just supplying hospitals,

Midnight missions to rescue troops from the trenches at the heart of Ukraine's war is a far cry from Ewan’s previous career as a DJ opening sets for Basement Jaxx and Calvin Harris.

But when he found himself caught up in the war while on a mission to rescue a friend he decided to stick with the country.

“Originally I went to Ukraine to help one person but my heart wouldn’t let me go home," he told us.

"There were too many children dying, it was awful. I had strangers trying to hand me their children asking me to save them."

Watch out for our coverage of the anniversary this week, including a podcast that looks at what is now at stake as the battlefield is reshaped and international support for Kyiv up in the air.

 
 

Fries with that?

It doesn't matter how much you charge, taking care of the costs is the first rule of good business.

Or so it would seem from the master of the salt sprinkle. Turkish chef Salt Bae is having some success with his London venture.

His London restaurant turned over £13.6 million ($17.1 million) in 2022 and profits were £3.3 million, in part helped by selling steaks that can cost up to $750 – but also in part from its heating policy.

The eponymous Nusr-Et Steakhouse, which is in the Park Tower Knightsbridge hotel in west London, said it had taken measures to improve energy efficiency, including "turning off central heating systems after closing or during peak hours when heating demand is lower" and switching the lights off when the restaurant is closed.

The restaurant also limited the use of the air curtain, essentially the heated fan above the door, which stops draughts blowing through when the front portal is opened.

Maybe gold has a heating quality all of its own.

 

OTHER STORIES THIS WEEK

The more timid Biden is with Netanyahu, the further away a two-state solution gets
Munich Security Conference showed limits of diplomacy in world at war
Gaza war calls into question America's role as top superpower
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