Palestinians: Visa Scheme — [Martin Vickers in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 4:30 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Chair, Petitions Committee, Chair, Petitions Committee 4:30, 13 Mai 2024

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered e-petition 648577 relating to a visa scheme for Palestinians.

I thank all the individuals and organisations who supported the petition for their hard work in achieving the threshold, particularly Gaza Families Reunited, which I had the privilege of meeting in the run-up to this debate. For many of those involved in supporting the petition this is an issue that impacts on their loved ones.

Gaza Families Reunited is made up of 350 Palestinians living in the UK with family in Gaza. They are calling on the UK Government to establish a Gaza family scheme to enable Palestinians in the UK to bring their loved ones to safety from Gaza until it is safe to return. They note that the Government have previously introduced successful bespoke pathways for those fleeing persecution in Ukraine and Hong Kong, and argue that the same can and must be done for Palestinians from Gaza. They point to the Ukraine family scheme as something on which the Gaza family scheme could be modelled.

Since 7 October, which saw 1,143 people murdered by Hamas and around 3,500 injured, with 252 hostages taken, of whom 128 remain unaccounted for, we have all seen the devastating humanitarian consequences for all who are caught up in the conflict. It is impossible to understand the pain felt by those waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones taken hostage, or the grief of families mourning 34,000 killed in Gaza. We hear terrible statistics so frequently that they begin to lose their meaning. However, each of those numbers are people; they are people who have or had loved ones, hopes and dreams, and whose lives have been irrevocably altered by the conflict.

I thank Noah Katz, who chairs Lancaster and Lakes Jewish Community in my constituency, for giving time and sharing how we can advocate for peace rather than stoking division, as well as our common views on the need to see hostages released and a ceasefire. Although the Jewish community in Lancaster is small, it has strong links with friends and family in Israel. In the seven months since 7 October, they have provided support for local Jewish families. The local Jewish community has adopted the Bibas family, as part of the “Seder Seat For a Hostage” campaign by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I thank Noah for the way they support Jewish families in Lancaster, including my own.