County Durham MP demands economic sanctions to force Israel to make peace

Conflict between Israel and Palestinians will only get worse unless action is taken, warns North East MP

Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris
Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris

An MP has called for economic sanctions targeting Israel to help bring an end to the long-running conflict with Palestinians and ensure the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, County Durham, said he feared the region was heading for more violence and bloodshed unless the international community intervened.

And he said he wanted to see “a just and lasting peace and about the welfare of the people of Israel and Palestine”.

The MP was leading a Commons debate prompted by an online petition signed by more than 124,000 people.

Mr Morris said: “There is a palpable sense of frustration from the UK public, which is reflected in the fact that more than 124,000 people signed the e-petition that brought about this debate.”

And he warned: “On the current trajectory, we are headed towards further violence, further oppression and further turmoil. That issue is of great concern to Members from both sides of the House who care about a just and lasting peace and about the welfare of the people of Israel and Palestine.”

Speaking to MPs, he highlighted the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area of land which is expected to form part of a future Palestinian state along with Gaza.

United Nations resolutions, as well as peace agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, call for a “two state solution” with an independent Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.

But Mr Morris said that Israel not only prevented this but was responsible for human rights abuses against Palestinians in land which it controlled.

He said the UK Government should help “to move things forward, level the playing field and encourage a return to negotiations.”

Mr Morris said: “Part of that has to involve applying further pressure to the Israeli Government, perhaps through economic sanctions and highlighting some of the iniquities of trading with illegal settlements on the West Bank.”

Later he added: “In my view, if we fail to set clear parameters, targets and consequences, including economic sanctions, for failures to end violations and make progress on the peace process, we are perpetuating the conflict.”

Asked about missiles fired against Israel by militant Palestinian groups, he said: “I want to place on the record the fact that I condemn all violence unreservedly, irrespective of which side it comes from . . . I am certainly not here to condone any acts of violence.”

A different view was set out by Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, who said that Hamas - the group effectively in control of Gaza - refused to recognise Israel’s right to exist, making negotiations impossible.

Referring to Hamas, Mr Halfon said: “As the promoters of democracy and freedom in the world, can we in good conscience endorse an organisation that holds as a principle the destruction of the Jewish state, that fires rockets at civilians from civilian areas?”

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