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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 5:44 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Llafur, Hammersmith 5:44, 13 Mai 2024

I do not know whether it was the embassy in Tel Aviv or the consulate in Jerusalem. I have always found the consulate in Jerusalem very helpful; the other, perhaps not so much.

The last point I want to make on these false premises is about the idea that the scheme would be a way for Gazans and Palestinians to come to the UK and live here permanently. That has never been alleged against Ukrainians. We know the passion with which Ukrainians want to return as soon as they can to their homeland. The same is true to a greater extent for Palestinians, as is clear to anyone who, like me, has visited the region; I have visited Gaza several times, and I have visited the west bank and spoken to Palestinians. Above all, they want the right to live in their own country, recognised internationally and governed by the rule of law. The Palestinians have been campaigning for the right to return to their country for nearly 80 years, and it is frankly insulting to say that they are looking at a way to permanently settle elsewhere. There is a Palestinian diaspora around the world; there is a Palestinian diaspora in refugee camps throughout the middle east. Most Palestinians want to live in a free and democratic Palestinian state.

I will bring my remarks to a close. This is a very important debate, but it is on one—perhaps not the most brutal—aspect of what is currently going on in Gaza. I begin to get sickened at the way our Government are dealing with this matter. It is as if they are a passive observer: “Is Israel breaking international law at the moment? Have they, in fact, crossed a red line by what they are doing in Rafah at the moment? As we are not sending very much by way of armaments, perhaps it does not matter or make a big difference to the number of people killed.” These are deeply degenerate and obscene attitudes, when we see every day on television or social media how children are being killed in their thousands.

We have not said the right things. The Government have not even called for a ceasefire, as yet. If they had done all those things, maybe it would not have made a difference, but at least we should be on the right side of the argument morally. What we are debating today is one thing we can do. We can give relief to those Palestinians who are in such extremis and need to come here, who will be welcomed by people in the UK whether they are their family or people who just generously want to give them aid and succour.

I urge the Minister to both respond fully to this debate, which his colleagues have avoided doing, and to show some sympathy and humanity to those suffering in Palestine.