Ed Davey: I have just returned from the Middle East

Ed Davey has been on a visit to Israel and Palestine. He has sent out this email:

I’ve just returned from a visit to Israel and Palestine.

The 7 October attacks and the ongoing conflict and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza have affected so many lives. They have also had a profound impact on many communities here in the UK.

I felt that it was vital to travel to the region and meet with those whose lives have been turned upside down these past few months, and speak to politicians and civil society leaders about how we get to an immediate bilateral ceasefire and a two state solution.

In the past few days I’ve heard the stories of people whose lives have been changed by this conflict: Itzik Horn, whose two sons are right now being held hostage by Hamas; Palestinians whose lives in the West Bank are now a misery, thanks to settler violence and huge restrictions on their ability to work and travel.

I also met the United Nations Humanitarian Agency, UNOCHA, hearing about how vital it is that the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza is ramped up immediately.

You can read all about my visit to the region, as well as what we’ve done as a party since 7 October, here:

Read more  ➜

Since my return, I’ve called on the UK Government to sanction two far-right, extremist Israeli ministers who are figureheads for the illegal settler movement, a movement that wants to ensure that a two-state solution is impossible, in breach of international law.

Read more  ➜

As Liberal Democrats, our belief in international law, human rights and justice underpin our response to the dreadful scenes we’ve seen these past few months.

It’s why we’ve called for months now for an immediate bilateral ceasefire to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, get the hostages out, and create space to move towards a two state solution.

It’s why we believe that only a lasting peace and two states will secure the dignity and security that Israelis and Palestinians deserve.

And it’s why I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues in the UK Parliament will redouble our efforts to persuade the Government to take a better stance that will help us move away from this bleak situation and towards a lasting peace.

Best wishes,
Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
(he/him)

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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8 Comments

  • Has anyone noticed there’s a
    By-election this evening in what used to be a safe liberal seat? Ok, things change, but …

  • Alex Macfie 1st Mar '24 - 9:06am

    @JohnMc: Rochdale was never a “safe” Liberal or Lib Dem seat, and in any case there is no such thing.

  • David Evans 1st Mar '24 - 10:02am

    The problem in Israel and Palestine is that the extremists on both sides have used conflict as a mechanism to undermine the centre and instead sow the seeds of ever increasing despair, division and ultimately hatred. Each set of so called leaders in turn has used ever more extreme actions to ratchet up their support and make the middle ground almost untenable except for the very brave.

    Ultimately though it is the ordinary people, both Israeli and Palestinian, who are just trying to get on with their lives who suffer ever more and more, while their leaders bask in the ‘glory’ of their latest outrage.

    The answer to their problems was never Netanyahu and conflict nor Hamas and conflict, just as it was never Johnson and Brexit nor Corbyn and Brexit in the UK (thankfully at a less violent but equally stupid and divisive level). However, the collapse of the competent centre, who work to find a balance to the needs of all communities in both countries, should be a warning to us all. Sitting on an ever more wobbly fence, trying not to say anything that might upset those close to us but currently just out or reach on both sides is no way to build a strong centre.

  • Big Tall Tim 1st Mar '24 - 3:51pm

    Very well said Alex Macfie

  • I commend Ed for going to see for himself but must report one disappointing conversation I have had since seeing this letter to members. I have a surgeon friend in the UK of Palestinian birth. I have been trying to interest him in the Party, especially since we started calling for a ceasefire while Labour was still resisting. I showed him Ed’s this article and his response disappointingly was:

    “Sorry John but to me the Israeli bias in the language is so obvious. Things will never improve as long as that bias exists. Israeli settlers are in strong positions in the government and encourage settlers to attack and kill Palestinians under the protection of the IDF. Palestinians picking their own olives are considered as committing illegal acts. I see the concentration on what Hamas did but only limited, if any, mention of the nightly incursions in the towns and cities in the West Bank. An even- handed approach is needed, not one that repeats the Israeli narrative. He should have spoken as well to parents of the thousands of West Bank Palestinians detained since 7th October and enquire how they are treated.”

    One additional comment myself. I question whether we should talk about Yesh Atid as our sister liberal party. It is true that it now has Observer Membership of Liberal International but it’s leader Yair Lapid has said some questionable things since 7 October and, while he was Prime Minister, Palestinian deaths increased compared with the immediately preceding years.

  • John McHugo 2nd Mar '24 - 10:49am

    Ed – thank you for taking the trouble to make this trip. If only Sunak and Starmer would do something similar. It is a shame that there was no chance of you being allowed to visit Gaza as well as the kibbutzim which were attacked on 7 October, but that is not your fault.

    What I wonder now, after the man-made starvation in Gaza, is whether the Lib Dems could call for the Royal Navy to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza coast. Surely a couple of fleet auxiliaries could deliver a very substantial amount of aid. I feel that the necessity of the current situation requires this, although I am also reluctant to call for it since the responsibility for the welfare of the people of Gaza lies squarely with Israel.

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