Keir Starmer statement

The end of the cessation of hostilities in Gaza is deeply concerning, I urge all sides not to squander progress made over the last week.

All sides must work for a return to cessation that would allow for the release of more hostages, provide much needed time and space to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and open a dialogue for a political solution that provides for a long-term cessation of hostilities. 

We will only reach that long-term solution if Israel is assured that Hamas cannot carry out an attack like October 7 ever again. Those who can influence Hamas must demand they release the remaining hostages immediately. 

The levels of death and destruction over the past weeks has been intolerable. Far too many innocent Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed as part of military operations. There must be full accountability for all actions.

As fighting sadly resumes, Israel must not besiege or blockade Gaza. They must comply with international law by protecting innocent lives and civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

With winter coming and the people in Gaza being forced to live in an ever-smaller section of the strip, attempts to address the humanitarian catastrophe cannot regress, aid must be ramped up. The people of Gaza need aid, food, water, fuel, shelter, and medicine in huge volumes, to ensure hospitals function and lives are saved. We know the risk of disease is high and must be mitigated. 

Those displaced in this conflict also need assurances of their right to return home and rebuild their lives. Gaza cannot be left as a refugee camp, there can be no reoccupation or reduction of its territory. 

The UK and partners must start work immediately to find a pathway to an enduring cessation of hostilities and a lasting political solution. We want to see the threat of Hamas removed, the end to illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank, and a plan for the reconstruction and renewal of Gaza. 

Palestinians must be assured their future will not be like the past, that they and their children will be able to enjoy the security, opportunities and rights that we take for granted. 

That will not be easy. Diplomatic work never is. But the past few days have shown what diplomacy can do. 

These are the essential steps if we are to deliver a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, the only credible basis for long-term peace. 

Military action without this sort of plan cannot succeed.