As Chairman of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any violence inflicted upon, or targeted at, children and civilians in either Israel or Gaza. This is not only barbaric and entirely illegal but also undermines efforts to improve the situation in the region; hindering the Middle East peace process. Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements.
Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, and its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack. This is a position supported by the Government, which has also called on Iran to end its financial support for Hamas as well as its supply of military equipment to the terrorist group.
There is a need for all parties to reach an agreement that addresses the underlying causes of conflict in Gaza and to take the necessary steps to begin the reconstruction and economic recovery in the region. Any agreement should ensure that Hamas and other militant groups permanently end rocket and other attacks against Israel, restore effective governance in Gaza, and ensure Israel lifts its restrictions on Gaza to ease the suffering of ordinary Palestinians.
The Government remains focused on securing progress towards a two-state solution, with a sovereign and democratic Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel. This can only be achieved through a negotiated settlement.