Citizens in both Israel and Gaza deserve to live in peace and security. The recent rocket attacks into southern Israel that have led to this latest response of course deserve our condemnation but there can be no military solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Labour has, for days, been urging a cessation of violence by all sides. Israel has a moral duty to defend itself from terrorist attacks by Hamas, whose founding charter commits it to the destruction of Israel. Yet only by recognition of Israel’s right to exist and its right to security and peace can negotiations towards a viable, independent Palestinian state be made.

Labour are also clear that a full scale ground invasion of Gaza would be a disaster for the peoples of both Gaza and Israel. It would risk escalating the already spiralling death toll, and damage profoundly the hope for peace and security.

Past military action has failed to bring a durable peace. There have been no meaningful negotiations on resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in recent months and years, despite Palestinians remaining stateless and Israelis continuing to fear rocket attacks. Permanent occupation would risk only permanent insecurity, fear and violence.

Real security for the citizens of Israel and Gaza will only be achieved through the reinvigoration of a serious political dialogue, aimed at ending the Occupation and establishing a lasting and just regional peace.

That is why, as Labour, we have urged and continue to urge the UK Government to end its opposition, and instead support the Palestinian’s bid for enhanced status at the United Nations at this month’s UN General Assembly meeting. It could prove a vital injection of momentum into a badly stalled set of negotiations that have caused some to question whether a two state solution is even any longer possible.

We need the violence to stop and the talking to start so that progress can be made towards agreeing a negotiated two-state solution which will bring the security and peace that the people of the region deserve.

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