Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP calls for ceasefire in Middle East

1.07.00pm BST (GMT +0100) Wed 26th Jul 2006

Stephen Williams, the Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, has called for an end to the disproportionate military responses from Israel against southern Lebanon and the Gaza strip, in the belief that they will only create a worsening humanitarian and political situation.

Stephen Williams said "The state of Israel has a right to exist in peace and security within recognized boundaries; but Palestinians and the Lebanese are also entitled to peace, justice and a viable homeland. Without a sustainable economy and suitable provision of sanitation, education and healthcare, there can be little hope for a viable future. The Israeli troops should not keep targeting key aspects of the civilian infrastructure, such as roads and power stations."

On July 19 at Prime Minister's Questions the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell MP, called on Tony Blair to condemn Israel's continued bombardment of Lebanon. He also asked the Prime Minister whether it was American policy to allow Israel a further period of military action. The Lib Dems in Parliament are unanimous that the security council of the United Nations must call for an immediate ceasefire.

Stephen Williams also believes that the G8 leaders must take a lead in this current crisis. Michael Moore MP, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, has tabled a parliamentary petition (called an Early Day Motion) calling for an immediate mission to the Middle East by senior envoys of the US, Russia, EU and UN for urgent dialogue to establish ceasefires and to set out a route to longer term peace.

"Only through world leadership can there be any hope for any resolution in these conflicts," Stephen added.

The EDM, tabled by the Lib Dems, that Stephen has signed reads:

That this House expresses grave concern about the escalating crisis in the Middle East; condemns the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers which triggered the current crisis both in Lebanon and Gaza; respects Israel's legitimate right of self defence, but calls on Israel to cease its disproportionate military response which amounts to the collective punishment of civilians, in clear breach of international law; calls on both sides to end attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including rocket attacks on Israeli targets; notes that a negotiated settlement is the only route to a lasting peace in the Middle East; recognises that the EU, with its significant economic influence in the region, should play a stronger role in the international response to this crisis; and urges the Quartet to show leadership by taking the sustained and concerted action necessary to bring the current crisis under control and to bring about the conditions necessary for the resumption of negotiations.

Stephen has also signed a letter to The Guardian newspaper, along with more than 50 other MPs from across the political spectrum. It reads:


As Members of the United Kingdom Parliament we condemn both the Hizbollah rocket attacks which had killed 17 civilians in Israel by 25 July, and the disproportionate Israeli military strikes which in the last few weeks have killed over 370 civilians and displaced over 500,000 in Lebanon, and killed over 100 in Gaza.

Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority all have the right to defend their lawful territories and to protect their peoples from attack.

Rocket attacks by militias on Israeli towns do not protect the people of Palestine or Lebanon. Likewise the people of Israel are not protected by military might which targets homes, bridges and roads in Lebanon, cuts electricity and water supplies to the majority of homes in Gaza, including refugee camps, and which has done far more damage to Lebanon's democratically elected government than it has to Hizbollah. Such actions are unacceptable, immoral and illegal.

As a High Contracting Party to the 4th Geneva Convention, the UK Government has a particular responsibility to uphold and ensure universal respect for international humanitarian law. We also call on the entire international community to press for an immediate ceasefire by all parties; to help secure the release of prisoners held unlawfully whether by Israel, Hizbollah or by Palestinian militias; and to take even handed steps to secure the implementation all UN Security Council Resolutions concerning the Middle East, including the realisation of a viable Palestinian state alongside an Israel secure in its lawful borders.

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