We need constructive action on the Gaza strip

Glasgow has many links with Israel and Gaza, including being twinned with Bethlehem, so people here have been watching the violence in the two regions with concern.

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Thankfully, after eight days of violence and deaths on both sides of the conflict, a ceasefire is now in force and I am praying it holds.

Too many lives have been lost, and too many people left traumatised by the fighting.

Children in both Israel and Gaza were living in fear, too scared to go to school, play outside and growing used to the whine of the drones and the dust from explosions. It is vital peace is given a chance.

The killing of innocent civilians is to be condemned.

I hope the inclusion of the opening of Gaza Strip crossings in the terms of the ceasefire will help to ease the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The free movement of people and goods will make it easier for people in Gaza, more than half of whom are children, to go about their daily lives.

When food, medical supplies and medical equipment are restricted, Gazans often go hungry, or without their medicines.

When movement in and out of the Gaza Strip is limited, people cannot access the medical care they need.

Although the levers of foreign policy and diplomatic relations rest with Westminster, humanity is not a reserved matter.

The people of Glasgow have shown their support for many communities in need over the years, such as asylum seekers who are facing destitution, and have been concerned about the hardship encountered by people in that region.

Glasgow has special friendship links with Bethlehem that stretch back many years, and which were officially recognised when the two cities were twinned in 2007.

I am very proud that Bethlehem is one of Glasgow's six twin cities.

It shows what an outward-looking city we are, and helps us to foster further links with the historic city of Bethlehem – youth groups and dignitaries from both cities have exchanged visits.

The links do not stop here – the University of Glasgow is part of a joint project involving European and Palestinian universities to encourage lifelong learning in Palestine.

Indiscriminate attacks, be they rocket attacks or air strikes, target and hurt civilians more than anything else.

The Scottish Government supports the view that long-term peace between Israel and Palestine is best served by a two-state solution.

We urge all parties to engage constructively, proportionately and – most importantly – within the obligations imposed on them by international law to find a peaceful way forward.


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