Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry has written to the Foreign Secretary expressing concerns about the situation in Gaza following a meeting with residents at Banbury Town Hall yesterday (Thursday).
Immediately after the meeting attended by both Muslims and non-Muslims Mr Baldry sent a letter to Philip Hammond expressing frustration of Banbury residents that so little progress has been in establishing a ‘genuine two-state solution’ to the ongoing crisis.
He said: “I think there was considerable frustration amongst those present that so little real progress has been made so far in establishing a genuine two-state solution.
“I think there’s a very clear sense that even when negotiations are ongoing for a two-state solution Israel is simply increasing the number and size of settlements on the West Bank making a solution in practical terms even more difficult.
Mr Baldry said it was wrong to keep the people of Gaza in ‘what is effectively an open prison’ and suggested the United Nations should take a role in supervising the delivery of aid to Gaza.
He said: “I think if the peace talks initiated by John Kerry and others are to have any chance of succeeding, those who are supportive of Palestine have got to have confidence that these are meaningful negotiations by both sides and that there is genuine potential for a free, prosperous and flourishing Palestine and that we are not going to simply have a situation again like now in a year or two’s time.”
Mr Baldry called the meeting after a speech posted on his website condemning rocket attacks by Hamas as unhelpful to seeking a solution to the crisis drew strong criticism from many Banbuy residents.
In the speech posted on his website on Monday Mr Baldry called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
However he condemned recent rocket attacks by Hamas stating: “However strongly one sympathises with those who want a sovereign Palestinian state, one cannot avoid the fact that in this round of conflict, Hamas armed groups and other armed groups in Gaza, have fired some 1,400 rockets over almost all of Israel driving millions into bomb shelters, provoking in the first instance Israeli air attacks, but those notwithstanding the rocket fire into Israel has continued unabated.
“I think it is difficult not to draw the conclusion that Hamas has chosen to funnel its money into terrorist infrastructure, whilst the general population of Gaza languishes and finds itself in an ever increasingly violent situation.”
Residents at yesterday’s meeting urged Mr Baldry to put pressure on the government to take action to seek a solution to the crisis and to have the blockade of Gaza lifted. They also asked him to explain whether British firms have licenses to produce arms for Israel which he said he would look into.
Mr Baldry promised to write to the government but repeated his condemnation of the rocket attacks stating: “The blockade of Gaza needs to be lifted. It’s entirely unacceptable that Gaza should be a prison camp.
“But for Hamas or anyone else to fire rockets into Israel is counter productive
“Israel has the fourth or fifth largest army in the world. There is no way Hamas or anyone else is going to be able to defeat them militarily. All it does is to put Hamas and Palestinians on the wrong side of international law.
“We need to get back to proper negotiations.”
For more updates on Mr Baldry’s position on the matter visit www.tonybaldry.co.uk