Layla Moran briefs members on Israel/Hamas war

Last night, Layla Moran briefed over 1000 Lib Dem members on the party’s response to the war between Israel and Hamas which started when Hamas murdered, tortured and kidnapped Israeli citizens living near the border with Gaza on 7th October.

I understand it was one of, if not the most, well-attended party webinar ever, showing the extent of the concern and interest amongst Liberal Democrats. Layla set out the party’s thinking and took questions for over an hour.

For Layla, this has a very personal dimension. Members of her extended family are taking refuge in a church after their home was bombed. Speaking on Kuenssberg on Sunday, Layla spoke about how people in Gaza had gone from asking themselves where they could go to be safe to thinking about where they wanted to be when they died. She described the “tortuous” wait for news from them when the internet went down.

Last night, she spoke with such wisdom, compassion and insight and set out the key principles behind the Liberal Democrat approach:

  • Concern for the human beings affected in both Israel and Gaza
  • Prioritising aid getting into Gaza
  • Condemnation of the Hamas atrocities
  • Recognising Israel’s right to defend itself and rescue the hostages
  • The war must be fought according to the rules, and anyone who breaks those rules needs to be investigated
  • There needs to be a pause or pauses to get aid into Gaza and let people out if they want to leave
  • We need to look to the future and keeping trying to make the hope of a two state solution a reality, even if that looks distant at the moment.

She completely rejected any notion that we have to pick a side in this. People in both Israel and Gaza are suffering and our primary concern has to be to make their lives better and safer. She talked of the solidarity she felt with the Jewish community in Oxford and how important it was to have vigils where Muslims, Jews and everyone else grieved together and comforted each other. She was very worried about increasing anti-semitism and Islamophobia in this country.

The Government were not helping with this. She described Suella Braverman’s description of pro Palestinian demonstrations as “unhelpful”, saying that most people on them were concerned for their fellow human beings.

She described visits she had made to the area within the past five years with both Lib Dem Friends of Israel and Caabu and Medical Aid for Palestine, listening to Israelis and Palestinians and how this has given her an insight into the complexity of the problems.

A two state solution has to be the end goal, so that both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace, dignity and safety. However progress is likely to be limited while both Hamas and Netanyahu are in power.

Layla’s briefing was at times emotional for her but the way she channels that emotion into bringing people together and trying to build a peaceful future is an example we should all follow. As she said, our party’s values are all about humanity & striving for peace.

I came away from it feeling that I had learned so much.

Federal Conference Committee Chair Nick Da Costa deserves a massive shout out for chairing the event so well. He had to make sure that he reflected the issues raised in questions from such a huge audience and he did a great job.

Layla’s remarks were well received by party members on Twitter.

Nick Carthew said:

..to hear her tonight lay out solutions and suggestions as to how we might move forward was so refreshing. It’s just a shame that broadcast media never can find the time or space for such discussions.

Cllr Pete Roberts said:

Having had to wait to gain access I am hoping the full hour is shared much wider than just within our own party. The 25 minutes I caught at the end would make ideal source material for anyone wanting to advance the cause of peace in the region.

On that, the event was recorded and should be made available at some point. It is well worth watching.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council leader Vikki Slade said:

It was really moving to listen to her

There’s not much in the mainstream media coverage that covers the issue with what Layla described as the “nuance and balance” required so a session like this was very much needed.

Kenilworth and Southam candidate Jenny Wilkinson said:

What a privilege to be able to listen to @LaylaMoran this evening, explaining the strong and leading position the Liberal Democrats are taking on the conflict between Israel and Gaza. In everything we do we are aiming for a long-term peaceful solution.

We’ll let you know when the recording is available.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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14 Comments

  • Latest YouGov poll has Greens up 4 to 9% same as ourselves, with Labour down 4%.Being put down to the Cease Fire issue. Maybe we have missed the boat again. Layla Moran’s comments were very eloquent, noble and commonsense but we need to be distinctive, it paid off over Iraq when Charles Kennedy took a risk. Can we take a risk now and reap the benefit.

  • Leekliberal 3rd Nov '23 - 6:36pm

    Well said ‘Theakes’ and our lovely MP, Layla Moran! Our leadership, as usual, keep issuing soggy statements that say no more than that we agree with Labour and the Tories on this tragedy. Why can we not be distinctive and justified in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and for serious progress towards a two-state solution, as innocent Palestinians are slaughtered in thousands by the Israeli state?

  • The immigration of European Jews to Palestine predated the Balfour declaration of 1917. Between 1880 and 1907, the number of Jews in Palestine grew from 23,000 to 80,000. Most of the community resided in Jerusalem, which already had a Jewish majority at the beginning of the influx.
    Jewish immigration to Ottoman Palestine from Eastern Europe occurred as part of mass emigrations of approximately 2.5 million people that took place towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. A rapid increase in population had created economic problems that affected Jewish societies in the Pale of Settlement in Russia, Galicia, and Romania. from the 1870s until the 1920s. During this time, over two million Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe. The majority of these emigrants settled in the United States where there was the greatest economic opportunity. Others settled in South America, Australia, and South Africa and only a small fraction of Jews who migrated went to Palestine.
    A nascent Jewish homeland in Palestine had been established on the ground by the time of the Balfour declaration in 1917. The British mandate simply recognised that fact.
    The 1920 Jerusalem riots were among the first incidents of violence between Arab and Jews during the British mandate period. Palestinian Arabs revolted against British rule in 1936 demanding Arab independence and the end of the policy of open-ended Jewish immigration – the Jewish population having grown under British auspices from 57,000 to 320,000 in 1935.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Nov '23 - 10:59am

    @Leekliberal: Layla;’s part of the leadership — she’s our Foreign Affairs spokesperson! So what she says on this issue that’s part of her brief can be taken as the party line.

  • Ruth Bright 4th Nov '23 - 11:02am

    Her interview on Newsagents last night was mesmerising. We are so so fortunate to claim as our own a communicator of her calibre.

  • David Symonds 4th Nov '23 - 8:55pm

    I hope that we all want to see a ceasefire in Gaza. It is important of course to recognise that Hamas as terrorists provoked the current conflict by unspeakable behaviour but two wrongs do not make a right. Israel have been targeting civilians including children and they may have committed war crimes which need to be condemned. The UK and US must not only condemn Hamas but also Israel, the two state solution of two states living in peace is the best hope for us all. Mr Netanyahu is in fact very extreme politically and his coalition contains some pretty far right characters. I have written to Labour and Tories to ask them to be more even handed. Children in Gaza who are being injured or killed are not Hamas terrorists.

  • Hamas have said they do not support a ceasefire and will not observe any. Iran has said it will also not support any either. So how does anyone propose to achieve such ceasefire?

  • I think calls for a ceasefire will be rejected by both Israel and Hamas. The best that can be hoped for is a humanitarian pause or pauses to get aid into Gaza and let people out if they want to leave.
    The attack on Israel on 7th October may well have killed off any prospect of two state solution for the foreseeable future. The Palestinian leadership has always in the past rejected any offer of an independent state whether by the UN or Israel Abbas admits he rejected 2008 peace offer from Olmert and there is no sign that Hamas is preparing for anything other than a war of attrition in Gaza.
    The Abraham accords bringing about a rapprochement between Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia seem to be the best hope for some progress in the middle-east at present but will require considerable restraint on the part of Israel in pursuing Hamas militants in the Gaza strip Saudi Arabia and UAE, despite war, maintain support for Israel ties

  • Peter Hirst 5th Nov '23 - 4:25pm

    We don’t need to take sides to be distinctive. We should focus on our traditional values of human rights and allow the public to make their own decisions. We could also emphasise that as terrible as recent events have been they are part of a much longer narrative and we can look much further ahead than the other Parties.

  • Mick Taylor 6th Nov '23 - 4:53pm

    Peace is never the easy option. Vehemently opposed enemies want none of it. They believe that war will get them what they want. A war that has raged, on and off for at least 75 years will not end whilst both sides continue to be armed by their friends.
    Hamas and Hisbollah want a Palestinian state from the River to the sea, the current Israeli government seems to want an Israel that includes the whole of Palestine and want to drive Palestinians out of it.
    What we, as Liberal Democrats, must be campaigning and speaking for is a ceasefire, followed by peace talks aimed at a settlement of the two state solution. We must condemn atrocity whichever side commits it. We must insist that war criminals are brought to justice.
    As the son of a holocaust survivor and a pacifist, I know I speak for many who want a more robust line from Ed Davey instead of mealy mouthed apologies for the collective punishment being dished out by the Israeli Army urged on by the Netanyahu government. It’s easy to condemn Hamas for their murderous actions, but we must condemn all atrocity.
    Peace is a prize that will be difficult to achieve. Too many people on this thread are giving up without even trying.

  • The posting on the party website concludes “We are clear that the people of Israel and Pakistan [sic] have a right to live free from fear. The thing that will ultimately give them the security which they deserve – the security which will prevent the sort of scenes which we have seen over the past days – is to finally bring about the two state solution, and a lasting peace. Liberal Democrats are the party of internationalism and international law. We have long advocated for a two state solution, and we will continue to do so.”
    It is, however, by no means clear that a two state solution would bring about a lasting peace anytime soon. The Israel-Palestine conflict has been dogged by geopolitical interests and interference since its inception. This continues to be the case today. When an antisemitic mob invaded the Machachkala airport in Dagestan last week hunting for any Jews that may have arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv, the Russian president used the incident to accuse Western governments and Ukraine of seeking to ‘instigate pogroms’ in Russia.
    South Africa has called for the deployment of a UN force to protect civilians in Gaza South Africa calls for UN force to protect civilians in Gaza. That may well be necessary to get aid into Gaza (including fuel for hospitals and public infrastructure) and prevent what is increasingly looking like an ethnic cleansing operation. Such a force could also be deployed to ensure that hospitals and schools are not being used as military bases and provide safe havens for civilians.

  • Nigel Jones 7th Nov '23 - 8:39pm

    @Peter Hirst, not taking sides in this conflict is the way for Lib-Dems to be distinctive, since Rishi and Keir are effectively siding with Israel at the moment. Ed should support the words of Gutterez, of the UN, in order to give a balanced view and he has not yet done so. More bold support for Palestinians is surely essential for justice, always a pre-cursor for peace. It does not matter that our voice will not affect people like Netanyahu or Hamas leadership, but people need to know that it is one of our values to stand for the oppressed and (like Charles did over Iraq) denounce pure militarism as a solution.

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '23 - 12:35pm

    “I think calls for a ceasefire will be rejected by both Israel and Hamas.”

    True. However, If anyone is implying that this is a reason for not calling one this is missing the point.

    The first step in stopping this war, and the wider dispute generally, has to be an international call for it to be resolved no matter how long that takes.

    A just settlement has to be part of any viable peace deal.

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