Israel & Gaza

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Surely friends of Israel, like the Prime Minister and I, have a duty at this time to speak the truth. These attacks, despite the horrendous rocket assaults on Israel and the extremism of Hamas, are not “disproportionate”; in any other conflict they would be described as war crimes. That is the truth. The problem also is that there is no end in sight to this. What will happen, a moderate Palestinian leadership having been replaced by Hamas through the failure to succeed in negotiations, is that Hamas, as the respected former Israeli Government adviser Daniel Levy has suggested, could soon be replaced by ISIS in Gaza. We have to start, as the west, speaking the truth, acting and persuading the Israeli Government to negotiate seriously.

The Prime Minister: As a friend of Israel—the right hon. Gentleman said that he is one too—I think we should always speak the truth, and I always have done with Israel, for instance in the case of illegal settlements. But I think another element of the truth is that if Hamas stopped the rocket attacks on Israel, the Israeli operation in Gaza would end and there would be a ceasefire. The point that the Israeli Prime Minister makes, which I think is a legitimate one, is that there have been a number of occasions when he has unilaterally declared or agreed to a ceasefire, but Hamas will not follow suit. I absolutely agree that we need to speak the truth, but the truth must start with an end to these attacks.