Gaza and Israel: First Minister letter to UK Government

Letter from First Minister Humza Yousaf to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and debate in the Scottish Parliament on a motion which condemns the Hamas atrocities on 7 October, calls for the release of the hostages and for all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire.

To: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

From: First Minister Humza Yousaf

The already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate.  The Scottish Parliament will today debate a Government motion which condemns the Hamas atrocities on 7 October, calls for the release of the hostages and for all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire. 

With every passing day, the number of innocent Palestinians losing their homes, their livelihoods and their lives continues to grow.  The support the UK Government has given to Israel, while the devastation in Gaza has grown, increases the moral responsibility on it to use whatever influence it has to stop the killing now. An immediate ceasefire is the only way in which the killing and suffering of innocent civilians can be brought to an end. I again call upon you to support an immediate ceasefire.

The Scottish Government is deeply concerned about the latest warnings from Israel to Palestinians living and sheltering in Khan Younis to vacate the area.  The humanitarian consequences of this are hard to overstate.  Following the forced evacuation of the population from the north of Gaza, it reinforces the impression that what we are witnessing is the gradual, but deliberate, expulsion of Palestinians from the entire territory. This, of course, would likely be a breach of international law. 

The international community cannot allow this to happen.  As a party to the Rome Statute, the United Kingdom should add its voice to those of the States which have referred matters to the International Criminal Court to investigate whether war crimes are or have been committed by both Israel and Hamas.

It is essential and urgent that the UK makes clear to the Israeli Government, and to the world, that in line with support for a two state solution, only Palestinians can have authority in Gaza.  Of course, that authority must be exercised in a way that ensures the people of Israel, as well as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, are able to live in peace and security.

The UK needs to work with the international community to break, once and for all, the political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence.  This would be assisted were the UK to recognise the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, as over 130 members of the United Nations, including nine members of the European Union, have done and as the new Spanish Government has pledged.

Recognition would offer hope to Palestinians that a just and durable political solution is possible.  It would make it plain to the Israeli Government that a military solution is illusory and the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza is unacceptable.

I urge you to show the international leadership you claim for the UK by calling for an immediate ceasefire by all sides, and by announcing the UK Government’s recognition of the State of Palestine. 

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