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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 4:45 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Llafur, Poplar and Limehouse 4:45, 13 Mai 2024

I agree with my hon. Friend that we are a place of sanctuary, and we welcome refugees.

The political establishment has been totally out of touch with the majority of British people on this. That will not be easily forgotten. As young people across east London ask me, how is it that the Government condemn certain countries for their human rights records and crimes, but not others? Why does the right to self-determination seem to be spoken about for some, but not others? Why are some national flags celebrated but others denigrated, or even effectively banned? Why are some deaths mourned and others explained away? Why is it that, for the Government, too many Palestinians have been killed or are starving, but there is no condemnation of those who killed them or are starving them?

Like many across the UK and around the world, I have always been opposed to the bombing and displacement of civilians, but this Government have supported it in Gaza. What did they think would happen when they supported the openly declared intent to reduce the entire Gaza strip to rubble? Whenever this Government have been asked about the long-term plan for millions of civilians in Gaza, they have been unable to answer. Instead, it was this Government who withdrew funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency shortly after the International Court of Justice’s interim ruling. It is this Government who help to ensure that Israel has the weapons to kill women and children. Indeed, it would be helpful if the Minister could update us today on the latest assessment of whether weapons from the UK have been used to kill children. Whenever asked about how UK-traded weapons are used, the Government provide pro-forma, general lines about ongoing reviews and the licensing criteria. If those reviews are actually happening, why can we not know what they reveal? Especially now, when those living the reality of this horror are reaching out for support to survive, it is this Government who turn their back on humanity.

For some time now, parliamentary political discourse has used migration—even the absolute horror of people dying in the English channel—cynically and as a political tool. It is the age-old phenomena of scaremongering and scapegoating. As the Government erode our civil liberties and democratic rights, as they disenfranchise and disempower, and as they attack the very fabric of our communities through austerity, they foster fear and division and they falsely point to migrants as the cause of our alienation. In truth, it is overwhelmingly clear that the global drivers of refugee movements are intrinsically connected to the legacies of colonialism and empire, which live on to this day. There is no doubt the British Government have a responsibility to step up for the people of Gaza fleeing collective punishment, and yet, shamefully, there is no doubt that they are still choosing complicity rather than compassion.