A UK government minister has ruled out offering a “bespoke route” out of Gaza for Palestininans impacted by the war who have relatives in this country.
Rejecting calls from the SNP and from a Labour MP to offer an escape route to Palestinians fearing for their lives in the conflict, foreign office minister Leo Docherty told the Commons:”The issue of resettling Palestinian refugees is, of course, complicated by the right of return, which we must carefully consider.
“That issue is at the heart of the Middle East peace process.
“For many of those fleeing Gaza, permanent resettlement to a third country is not the right solution. Indeed, it may be the worst option for those whose dearest hope is to live out their days in a recognised state of Palestine. ”
Docherty added:”The House will know that we are a generous nation—half a million people fleeing danger have been offered a place in this country via a safe and legal route since 2015. But a bespoke route is not the right solution for the current situation.”
Earlier the SNP’s Peter Grant had said:”Many of our constituents have hardly slept for months, because they never know when they are going to get the phone call telling them of the death of a relative, or in some cases, the deaths of five, 10 or 15 relatives at the same time. It is an unimaginable worry for people to be living with.”
He added:” A large number of our constituents have close family members who are in mortal danger. We cannot stand by and then wonder afterward why some did not survive.”
Labour’s Matt Western said:”I too have encountered issues involving several constituents.
“Surprisingly, there do not seem to be that many—I think that three have written to me—so I do not think there is a huge number that the Government should be concerned about. However, these are family members who are contributing to the UK economy. My constituents Rami Alfaqani and Alaa Safi have lost 52 members of their family, and another family member needs urgent medical intervention. That is why we should do the humanitarian and right thing for those people.”
Western was joined by the MP Rachael Maskell who said:” My constituent is here under the British Council’s scholarship scheme. He has two tiny children and his wife in Gaza. He could not afford to bring them over here on a visa, as he is a student, studying at the British Council’s request.
“He wants to be reunited with his little children, who have seen many of their friends and family killed. Why will the Government not reach out to that family and allow them safe passage so that they can be reunited?”
But summing up minister Docherty said “safe and legal routes do exist, but the way we can have a positive impact to set the conditions for people such as those she mentioned is for us to push for a humanitarian pause and a ceasefire.”
He added:” It is irresponsible to talk in hypotheticals otherwise. The way the situation will be improved is for us to achieve a humanitarian pause. For us to make rhetorical statements that do not pertain to reality would be simply irresponsible.”
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