As Labour Councillors in Brighton and Hove, we have, along with our residents, watched recent events in Israel and Gaza with horror and despair. We know these events have had a huge impact on residents in Brighton & Hove, and that this is a very anxious time.
We continue to condemn the terrorist attack by Hamas on the people of Israel, which marks the darkest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust. We call on them to immediately release all hostages unharmed, and we recognise that Israel has the right to take targeted action within international law to defend itself and rescue hostages. However, the sheer number of innocent civilians now killed and displaced in Gaza, the disproportionate numbers of women and children affected and the collapse of the healthcare and other infrastructure in Gaza is shocking for everyone to observe. This escalating humanitarian crisis must be addressed with the greatest urgency.
That is why we echo calls from the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the IRC and the ICRC for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire by all parties in the conflict, as well as the release of all hostages. The UN have said that this is required to allow crucial life-saving supplies – including fuel, food, water and medical supplies into Gaza. Mr Guterres has said that the UN “Need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now”, and we agree. We need increased work by the international community to bring a permanent end to this decades-long conflict.
Our thoughts are with the Israeli and Palestinian children, families and communities that have experienced devastating loss in this conflict. We are a Labour Group that care for and represent all members of our community, and we have both Muslim and Jewish Councillors. Brighton and Hove is a City of Sanctuary with longstanding, treasured, Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. We are particularly mindful of our Muslim, Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian and Christian residents – some of whom we know have had family members and friends killed in recent weeks.
We know many in our communities are fearful as a result of rising hate crimes, and we completely condemn any acts of antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism that take place in our city. As community leaders we want to support our residents by speaking to faith and community groups and working to protect our communities who are facing rising hate crime and racially motivated violence.
As local councillors our focus is on supporting all our residents in Brighton and Hove and to work to support community cohesion. However, we will continue to use our voice to condemn attacks on innocent civilians, call for the protection of civilians and seek peace.
The people of this region have been let down by the international community in recent years, and the UK Government left the two-state solution out of their recent UK-Israel roadmap. By contrast Labour in Government would prioritise this work, appoint a special envoy dedicated to Middle East peace and work alongside international partners as part of efforts to contribute to securing a negotiated two-state solution, and a lasting peace.