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'I'm an MP and my fear for family in Gaza is indescribable. That's why I want a ceasefire'

Yahoo News - Insights is a new series in which we hear directly from people with an inside track of the big issues. Here, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran writes about her extended family trapped in Gaza

London , UK 24 October 2023.  Layla Moran,who is of Palestinian descent and serving as the Liberal Democrats Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon  and spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development,  in Parliament Square to voice her support for Medical Aid to reach Palestinians in the besieged Gaza by Israel . Credit amer ghazzal/Alamy Live News
Layla Moran is the first UK MP of Palestinian descent. (Alamy)
  • Layla Michelle Moran, born on September 12, 1982, in Hammersmith, London, became the first UK MP of Palestinian descent and the first female Liberal Democrat MP from an ethnic minority background, when she won Oxford West and Abingdon in 2017. Moran has been the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development since 2020.

  • Writing for Yahoo News, Moran describes the fear she has for members of her own extended family suffering from dehydration and starvation in Gaza and why she believes an immediate ceasefire is a necessary first step to achieve lasting piece.

The last month has been incredibly painful for all of us.

I was distraught when I first heard of the abhorrent attacks by Hamas on 7 October. I feel a deep sense of grief for those who were killed in the attack and those taken hostage. And I was distraught when the bombs began to fall on Gaza. I feel grief for all those innocent Palestinian civilians who have also been killed.

My fear for my own extended family in Gaza is indescribable. They are sheltering in a church compound, and we now know they are down to one meal a day and one cold shower a week. I was most scared of the bombings, now I am scared they will die of dehydration or starvation.

So many people with connections to the region have either lost family and friends or know people who have. I know of one person who has lost 51 members of their family in Gaza. This is devastation. And so many people with no direct ties are seeing the images from Israel and Gaza, perhaps coming to this conflict for the first time, and sharing in our grief.

Palestinians walk past the buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at the main road in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians walk past the buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at the main road in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

1,150 children are reported missing in Gaza, possibly lying under the rubble. 1.4 million people have had to flee their homes, half of them children. And the lives of 130 premature babies relying on neonatal and intensive care services are at risk if hospitals run out of fuel.

The death toll now stands at over 11,000 including nearly 5,000 children. And the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing worse by the day.

That fear is matched by those with connections to Israel.

What awful things to have in common - devastating pain, loss, and fear. And the bombs are still falling; the hostages are still held captive; and the death toll is climbing.

That’s why it is so important for me to stand up, not just for my community as a British-Palestinian, but also for my local Jewish and Israeli communities. For me to understand their feelings, and for them to do the same for me.

It is so important for me to stand up, not just for my community as a British-Palestinian, but also for my local Jewish and Israeli communities. For me to understand their feelings, and for them to do the same for me.Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP

What we share, whatever our backgrounds, is not just grief, but a faith in each other. A faith in humanity, and a faith in a common future where there is peace and an end to the violence,

In Oxford just over a week ago, those of all faiths and none came together for a Vigil for Peace. Representatives from the Jewish and Muslim communities spoke, as well as myself and community leaders, and hundreds of people came not with flags, but with candles. We cried together, we mourned together, and we hoped for peace.

There are so many concerns that the conflict will divide communities in the UK and across the world. But what we showed in Oxford is that you don’t have to pick a side. You can come together on the side of humanity; you can come together in the name of peace to find the light in these darkest of days.

The Liberal Democrats’ position throughout has been a strong commitment to a two-state solution. We stand firmly on the side of humanity. If that makes us stand out from others, so be it.

The hope that I am holding onto is the hope of a long-lasting peace, with security and dignity for both peoples. Two states. Two peoples. Making good on the promise made to the Palestinians over 100 years ago. By the British no less.

To make that future a reality, the current situation cannot continue. This dire humanitarian tragedy must be alleviated. The hostages must be released. The basic needs of 2.3 million Gazans must be met.

We must also recognise that there is no place for Hamas in a two-state solution. For the security of Israelis and the future of Palestinians, Hamas cannot remain in charge of Gaza. But as the humanitarian devastation is making clear, there is no military solution which will achieve such a goal.

That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire. Only a sustained political and diplomatic solution will resolve this conflict, not only bringing a cessation of violence now that will help alleviate the humanitarian tragedy impacting millions of innocent Palestinians and provide an opportunity for the release of hostages, but also pointing the way to two states and a lasting peace to this 75-year conflict forevermore.

A ceasefire must be binding on all sides, applying equally to Hamas as well as the Israeli army. It is by its nature temporary, and if it is broken a military option remains on the table. Some doubt whether this is achievable, but in moments of hopelessness in other conflicts this has been done before. We have seen pauses lay the ground for ceasefires. Ceasefires then lead to the end of the bombing.

A ceasefire must be binding on all sides, applying equally to Hamas as well as the Israeli army.

But I want to make clear I want more than a ceasefire. Some who are arguing for one only seem to mean freezing the conflict. But I cannot accept a ceasefire that only leads us back to where we find ourselves now. I want an enduring peace.

It is the role of the international community to come together and hold the hands of both peoples while they work towards a sustainable future. It will be difficult, but we must keep our eye on the political horizon. As we see tensions grow in our own communities in the UK and elsewhere, raised fears of regional actors becoming involved and conflict escalating, we simply cannot afford not to try.

An immediate bilateral ceasefire is the first step on the road to an enduring political solution, a two-state solution.

All the people of Israel and Palestine have a right to live free from fear. The road may be longer, but we must continue to pursue a sustainable and genuine peace between these two peoples.

Watch UK is 'failing' in diplomatic approach to Gaza conflict - Layla Moran MP