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Opinion

The First Minister of Wales should demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

25 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Photo by hosny salah from Pixabay

Beth Winter, MP for Cynon Valley

This week marked 200 days of Israel’s war on the people of Gaza.

In those 200 days, we have witnessed horrific and unimaginable pain, death and destruction of people and entire communities over recent months.

We condemn Hamas’ attack on Israel and repeat calls for Israeli hostages to be released.

But we condemn Israel’s ongoing response – the collective punishment of a whole population of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli state.

The latest UN report says over 34,000 deaths and over 76,000 injuries of Palestinians – of whom over 70% have been women and children. The displacement of over 1.7 million people. 1.1 million facing famine. Thousands of buildings destroyed.

And even after all this, about 800,000 people may be forced to evacuate if the Israeli military launches a ground incursion into Rafah.

The aid mission too is being obstructed by Israel’s military activity. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) says 178 of its staff have been killed.

The scale of this systematic displacement and destruction is why the Republic of South Africa requested the International Court of Justice, indicate provisional measures with regard to ‘a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts’.

That is why I and so many others have been calling for a ceasefire since October 8th.

I have spoken up and I have voted in Parliament in support of a ceasefire at every opportunity, but I constantly question what more can be done.

Vigils

There have been local vigils, such as those in Aberdare, and there have been numerous formidable marches through Cardiff, which it has been a privilege to attend.

There have been collections and fundraisers for the Red Cross, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Doctors Without Borders. There have been events on the steps of the Senedd. And there have been Statements of Opinion, such as that tabled by John Griffiths MS, and the passing of a Senedd motion, tabled by Plaid Cymru.

The Welsh Government abstained at the time but the Minister addressing the debate, Jane Hutt, expressed support for lasting peace, where, “the Palestinian people realise the independent statehood to which they have long aspired.”

There is much more that Wales can do to advance this goal.

The Welsh First Minister has responsibility for International Relations. The Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf has rightly been outspoken, leading calls for ceasefire – as indeed has the Scottish Labour Leader, Anas Sarwar. The Northern Ireland First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill, has also called for a ceasefire and spoken in support of the Palestinians.

Immediate ceasefire

The First Minister of Wales should demand an immediate ceasefire and work with Humza Yousaf, Michelle O’Neill and – indeed – Labour’s Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, to build momentum.

Despite the financial circumstances, Welsh Government should consider if and how it can directly support humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, particularly through UNWRA.

In 2022, Welsh Government made £4million of financial and humanitarian aid available to Ukraine.

Scottish Government has made donations to UNRWA in the past six months. Welsh Government should be doing the same.

Welsh Government could also establish its own website homepage on how individuals can assist the Palestinians in Gaza, as it did for Ukrainian refugees, helping to co-ordinate financial donations, volunteering, translation, helplines and support.

But there are other opportunities for Wales can develop a Cymru-Palestine relationship, without incurring new expenditure.

The Welsh Government maintains Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with a whole host of countries and regions of nations with their own cultural and ethnic identities – these currently prioritise the Basque Country, Brittany and Flanders.

This is a new process but is there not an opportunity to show solidarity by opening of discussions about an MoU with Palestine?

Could a new memorandum not build links between Welsh and Palestinian civil society? Between Welsh and Palestinian cultural organisations, between sports teams, through food and drink sectors? Links could be fostered between education and health institutions.

Arming Israel

Last week I handed a petition to 10 Downing St that the UK Govt should stop arming Israel. Wales must play its part. It has previously been reported that the drones Israel is using in Gaza have for years been developed and maintained in West Wales, leading to recent protests at West Wales Airport.

It is devastating to see drones developed in Wales contributing to atrocities in Gaza.

Welsh and Local Government should consider what human rights obligations it must require companies operating here to fulfil.

There is much we can and must do to show our commitment to peace. I call on Welsh Government to step up and call for: an immediate ceasefire; compliance with international humanitarian law; unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza; an end to arms sales. For humanity’s sake it is time Welsh Government takes the lead in showing solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling for survival, recognition and self-determination.


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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
26 days ago

Clearly a negotiated peace leading to a two state solution is the only way forward for Israel and the Palestinians. The international community has, for too long, looked the other way while Israel has expanded its agreed borders, taking over Palestinian homes and land with impunity..
I am not sure what impact withdrawing arms sales to Israel would have in the quest for peace, it would embolden Iran for sure.

Riki
Riki
25 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Why should the Palestinians give away half their land?! The Welsh may have capitulated over their own nation and ancient capital of Llundain but we shouldn’t be telling others to do the same.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
26 days ago

There are countless Palestinian orphans being created as a result of genocidal action of israel, often known by the mnemonic “WC-NSF” which stands for wounded child – no surviving family

Also, one of the worst cases was a man that had 103 relatives killed by israeli bombs!

‘Who will call me Dad?’ Tears of Gaza father who lost 103 relatives

Jeff
Jeff
25 days ago

Along with full independent inspection and free press let in to fact check IDF.

Riki
Riki
25 days ago

Yes, but no one will listen because we have to have the permission of the Anglo. Or have them do our talking for us. It’s pathetic! And makes us a laughing stock.

Jeff
Jeff
22 days ago

Sounds like he could also ask the UK government about what Israeli military aircraft are landing in the UK.

robin campbell
robin campbell
21 days ago

Completely agree with you, Beth. Unfortunately I think the Welsh government are pretty gutless

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