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Op-Ed video: Sunak and Starmer's response to the Israel-Palestine war is horrifying

UK leaders are paving the way for ethnic cleansing in Gaza, argues Middle East Eye columnist Peter Oborne

The UK's response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been woefully lacking, with the government and the opposition Labour Party inflaming, rather than resolving problems, says Middle East Eye columnist Peter Oborne.

After Palestinian fighters breached the separation barrier on 7 October, and killed at least 1,400 people and took another 199 hostage, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took to TV and said his support of Israel was "unequivocal."

Sunak's remarks, which failed to mention Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, gave Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu a blank cheque to conduct his reponse in any way he chooses.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also fared no better.

Instead of issuing humane and responsible remarks, when Starmer was asked whether cutting off water and electricity supplies was a proportionate response to the Hamas attacks, he said: "I think that Israel does have that right. It is an ongoing situation, obviously everything should be done within international law."

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"Starmer of all people, with his distinguished legal background, should have known that depriving a population of food, power and electricity amounts to collective punishment, which is illegal under international law," said Oborne.

"There is a terrible risk here that these remarks, from a man seen as the British prime minister in waiting, have given a green light for war crimes," he added.

"I pray that I am wrong, but I fear western leaders are now establishing the political foundation that would leave us complicit in massacres, indiscriminate bombing, and ethnic cleansing."

Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging in both 2022 and 2017, and was also named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Drum Online Media Awards for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He was also named as British Press Awards Columnist of the Year in 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His latest book is The Fate of Abraham: Why the West is Wrong about Islam, published in May by Simon & Schuster. His previous books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran and The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism.
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