Israel-Gaza conflict: Liberal Democrats call for immediate bilateral ceasefire

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey and Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran MP have today called for an immediate bilateral ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The purpose of such a ceasefire, which must apply to both Israel and Hamas, would be to get aid in, get the hostages out, and provide space to realise a political solution, ultimately with two states and a lasting peace.

Ed Davey has set out this proposal in full here.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran MP commented:

A lasting peace and a two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the dignity and security which both Palestinians and Israelis deserve.

Hamas clearly cannot remain in charge in Gaza, but a military solution to eliminate them is not possible, nor is it tenable for Israel to reoccupy Gaza.

Movement towards a political and diplomatic solution is needed more than ever. We have to try something different. The UK Government should be backing an immediate bilateral ceasefire, to provide space to achieve that political solution.

A ceasefire cannot be an end goal in itself: it must be a step towards peace, contingent upon both parties. Only a sustained political and diplomatic solution will resolve this conflict, not only bringing a cessation of violence now that will help alleviate the humanitarian tragedy impacting millions of innocent Palestinians and provide an opportunity for the release of hostages, but also pointing the way to two states and a lasting peace to this 75-year conflict forevermore.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP commented:

For the security of Israelis and the future of Palestinians, Hamas cannot be allowed to continue in charge of Gaza. But more than a month on from Hamas’ condemnable atrocities, it’s increasingly clear that a military solution to eliminate them is not possible.

Liberal Democrats are urging the UK Government to call for an immediate bilateral ceasefire, as the best option to achieve a political solution. With a devastating humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, an ongoing hostage situation, and growing risk of regional escalation, we must urgently demand a different approach.

Some who call for a ceasefire really seem to mean freezing the conflict, which is unacceptable as it leaves Hamas in charge of Gaza. We are proposing a ceasefire contingent on both parties, not as an end goal but as a step towards permanent peace.

It would provide time to facilitate the delivery of aid into Gaza, realise the opportunity to release the hostages, and provide space to intensify diplomacy towards delivering a political solution: Hamas out of Gaza, a two state solution and a lasting peace.

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26 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Nov '23 - 8:49am

    So well done!

  • Robin Stafford 13th Nov '23 - 9:02am

    Very pleased to hear LibDems finding their voice. More of this please.

  • Peter Davies 13th Nov '23 - 9:46am

    The timing may not have been perfect.

  • At last.

  • What a relief! The Party getting a grip again and standing for its liberal principles. Sad the statement wasn’t made in time for Lib Dems to support the (very good-natured, very inclusive, law-abiding) peace March last Saturday – the Greens (and fragments of Labour) had a presence – and it was heartwarming to walk alongside Jewish liberals. But well done Ed and Layla! Great to see Lib Dems leading again!

  • Leekliberal 13th Nov '23 - 2:34pm

    Better late……!

  • Leon Duveen 13th Nov '23 - 8:47pm

    I support this call for a ceasefire as part of a wider attempt to resolve to Palestine-Israel conflict. My only worry it that is glosses over the very real difficulties of firstly organising a ceasefire, then making sure both Hamas & the IDF withdraw from Gaza and finally providing civil governance & security to Gaza after that withdrawal. Unless the UK & other Western nations alongside Arab Nations step up to provide a force to do this, we will just create a vacuum that Hamas or its successors will fill.
    Everyone would de well to read this column from Gershon Baskin, the veteran Israeli peace activists who knows Gaza well – https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/a-plan-for-the-day-after-tomorrow/

  • Why does the proposal not call on Hamas to release their hostages immediately? If they did that then the Israelis would surely agree to a ceasefire.

  • Mark Frankel 14th Nov '23 - 8:04am

    This presupposes the Palestinians have a Mandela, which they ain’t got.

  • Chris Moore 14th Nov '23 - 9:05am

    Hello Leo Duveen,

    Just a detail. You say both IDF and Hamas should withdraw from Gaza. But Hamas forms the government in Gaza. Its HQ is in Gaza.

  • Leon Duveen 14th Nov '23 - 9:08am

    @Mark – While no-ones knows if he is another Mandela, Palestine does have a possible leader who could lead it out of the political morass that it finds itself in. Marwan Barghouti has been in an Israeli prison for over 20 years but still has the stature to unite Palestinians to take the dangerous path towards peace.
    Now if only there was an Israeli leader willing to do the same. None of the current politicians there seem capable of willing to do so,

  • Leon Duveen 14th Nov '23 - 9:10am

    @Chris, Hamas have forfeited the right to be the Government in Gaza. The pogrom on October 7th & their wilful putting the lives of the residents of Gaza on the line (while their leaders live in luxury in Qatar) mean that Hamas can no longer be any part of the solution

  • Chris Moore 14th Nov '23 - 9:29am

    Yes, Leon, I understand and agree with your anger and disgust with Hamas.

    But saying that Hamas should both “withdraw” from Gaza is to suggest they invaded Gaza like the IDF. Their HQ is in Gaza. That’s where they are from.

  • @John It is not genocide or ethnic cleansing. It is an attempt to deal with a vicious terrorist group that hide among the the civilians in Gaza. Just as there were thousands of civilian deaths when the UK backed Iraqi forces fought to remove ISIL from Mosul in 2016, it was inevitable that there would be civilians deaths in Gaza, indeed, this is what Hamas wanted know that many would just see the Palestinian deaths (from Hamas controlled media) without regarding the context.
    Yes there are some extremists in Israel who want to reconquer Gaza and expel all Palestinians, just as there are some Palestinians (Hamas for example) who want to remove Israel from the map and expel all Jews. However, this is not whatis happening currently.

  • Nonconformistradical 14th Nov '23 - 11:15am

    “Yes there are some extremists in Israel who want to reconquer Gaza and expel all Palestinians”
    And what about the extremists already in the West Bank? Are they helping the situation?

  • @Nonconformistradical, they are the same set of extremists & I have been trying to raise the issue of these extremists (who carried out the pogrom in Huwara in February) for around 10 years. In my opinion, they are a bigger danger to Israel than Hamas.

  • Thanks for publicising the call for a ceasefire by the Lib Dems, Mark. The announcement came 35 days after the bombardment started.
    It may not be quite clear from Ed’s statement that this latest chapter in the violent history of the region wasn’t exclusively the fault of Hamas. They got everyone’s attention with a depraved and sickeningly brutal attack on October 7th, but the reason they wanted to get our attention is that for 75 years the world has turned a blind eye to Israel’s illegal repression of the Palestinians and the bit by bit annexation of what is left of Palestinian land.

  • Andy,

    “for 75 years the world has turned a blind eye to Israel’s illegal repression of the Palestinians and the bit by bit annexation of what is left of Palestinian land”.

    It should be noted that there has been one or more UN resolutions on the Israel/Palestinian conflict virtually every year since the UN was formed and a separate UN agency for Palestinian refugees. I do not think it is a case of the world turning a blind eye, but rather more pressing humanitarian concerns in other areas of the world overtaking what has been an intractable regional conflict for 75 years.
    The problems on Darfur, Mynamar, Yemen, Wester Sahara and many other areas of the world get relatively little attention in comparison to recurring outbreaks of violence in Palestine.
    There is no shortage of able people in Israel and Palestine with the capacity and humanity to craft a lasting peace settlement. The problem is that it is always right wing extremists in Israel and Islamic extremists in Gaza that dominate the discourse and make it impossible for third parties to broker a solution that most ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who just want to be able to live their lives in peace would want to see.

  • Nigel Jones 14th Nov '23 - 2:46pm

    @Leekliberal, I agree better late than never, but disappointing that we have waited for stronger voices on this from government rather than taking a lead ourselves on the basis of liberal values.

  • Joe Burke, if, as you imply, you’re satisfied with the efforts of successive British governments to fulfil the “sacred duty for Civilisation” they undertook at the start of the Mandate, fine. I’m not. Recent Israeli governments have made no secret of their efforts to thwart realisation of a Palestinian state, and we have watched them do it. We even sell them the bulldozers they use to demolish Palestinian homes.

  • Andy,

    I think successive British governments have been bystanders commenting from the sidelines on this issue since the mandate ended in 1948 and the debacle of the 1956 Suez Crisis when Israeli forces entered the Sinai at the behest of Britain and France. Those with significant influence include the USA, EU and neighbouring Arab States.

  • Peter Martin 15th Nov '23 - 11:50am

    “…..make it impossible for third parties to broker a solution that most ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who just want to be able to live their lives in peace would want to see.”

    Unfortunately history has proved this to be true.

    There’s no point trying for a two state solution if each of those states is going to effectively be pulled into a war with the other by those who, probably with some justification, want past grievances to be redressed or simply feel they have literally some god-given right to create even more grievances.

    The two-state solution, if it ever existed, looks to be no more.

    Some new thinking is needed.

  • @Leon
    ” Yes there are some extremists in Israel who want to reconquer Gaza and expel all Palestinians,…. However, this is not whatis happening currently.”
    Trouble is Netanyahu is one those extremists who want to see a wholly Jewish state between the Sea and the River…
    So we need to look closely at just what Israel is actually doing in Gaza, the words coming out of Tel Aviv aren’t encouraging, basically we can expect Israeli occupation of Gaza to continue and pressure maintained to encourage Palestinians to “escape” to Egypt (and thus become someone else’s problem), naturally Israeli logic is that Palestinians that choose to remain are Hamas supporters… with no Palestinians left in Gaza, do you really expect Israel will allow Palestinians to return and rebuild? From a lifetime of watching, I don’t.
    From Netanyahu‘s previous behind the scenes game playing with respect to the Palestinians, the circumstances that permitted the events of 7th October look suspicious rather than opportune…

    A ceasefire is a necessary step to separate the squabbling children and hopefully permit the realisation that clearing Gaza and the West Bank isn’t going to resolve matters. It also gives the opportunity for the outside world to engage in resolving a long standing problem without having to take sides.

  • leon Duveen 16th Nov '23 - 7:28pm

    @Roland, Netanyahu is not an extremist, he is far far worse. He has no ideology other than to stay in power (and out of jail on the corruption charges he faces)and to do what is best for Netanyahu. He has been the template for right-wing populists in the USA (Trump), in the UK (Johnson) and India (Modi), use hatred and division to keep people voting for his as the answer to dealing with the danger of those who oppose him. Netanyahu lies to everyone, he says one thing in English and another in Hebrew, he reneges on deals but enough voters think him a God so he keeps getting re-elected.

  • Peter Hirst 25th Nov '23 - 1:00pm

    It is time Israel became clear about its long-term intentions for Gaza and the West Bank. It should no longer be allowed to hide behind rhetoric about being focused on eliminating Hamas. It should also allow its people to vote on its intentions.

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