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Labour's new West Midlands mayor tells LBC he would ‘absolutely’ support an arms embargo on Israel

7 May 2024, 19:11

Richard Parker says 'he would like an arms embargo' on Israel in due course

By Jenny Medlicott

The newly elected Mayor of the West Midlands Richard Parker has told LBC he would ‘absolutely’ like to see an arms embargo imposed on Israel.

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Speaking to LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr on Tuesday, Mr Parker said he was “incredibly concerned” by Israel’s activity after the IDF said it had taken control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing.

Asked about Israel’s potential actions in Rafah in the coming days, he said: “I am incredibly concerned, and I made a very clear statement that they mustn't go into Rafah.

“I’ve called previously for a ceasefire, we need to ensure that we get aid into Gaza, that the international community works collectively to create a two-state solution and we need the recognition of a Palestinian state.

“So, I've been firm on that. And I'll continue to press that line, both on social media and the conversations I'm having with our inner city and our Muslim community here in the West Midlands.”

Discussing whether an arms embargo on Israel could be on the cards, Mr Parker said: “I’m currently discussing that approach with number of MPs. I think it's unlikely to be achieved in the short term. I think what is possible in the short term is a ceasefire and a route to long term peace in the Middle East.”

He added however that he would “absolutely” like to see an arms embargo on Israel in due course.

Smoke rises from a shopping centre following an Israeli airstrike on Rafah
Smoke rises from a shopping centre following an Israeli airstrike on Rafah. Picture: Getty

It comes following reports that Labour’s share of the vote lost some Muslim voters in last week's mayoral elections due to the party’s previous stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Mr Parker said he has been spending time with Muslim communities across the West Midlands as part of Labour’s efforts to “rebuild trust with our Muslim community and hoping to ensure they come back to Labour”.

Earlier on the show, former British diplomat Sir Jeremy Greenstock said that he thought the UK would be “very reluctant” to impose an arms embargo but wouldn’t rule it out.

It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier on Tuesday he was deeply concerned" about Israel's military activity in Gaza.

Mr Sunak urged both Israel and Hamas to "continue talking" despite Israel saying earlier that it had rejected a Hamas ceasefire proposal as a "ruse".

Smoke rises from a shopping centre following an Israeli airstrike on Rafah
Smoke rises from a shopping centre following an Israeli airstrike on Rafah. Picture: Getty

A Foreign Office minister said the UK had not seen a "credible plan to protect civilians" in Rafah, where around a million people have been taking shelter from the war.

The Prime Minister said: "I've urged all parties to continue talking, negotiating and getting around the table, which they are doing.

"We need to give them the space to conclude these negotiations.

"We've been consistent in saying we want to see an immediate humanitarian pause so we can crucially get more aid in and release the hostages, and then use that pause to build a more lasting ceasefire.

"That's been the efforts of all our diplomatic engagement."

Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would "continue until the absolute victory" over Hamas after his country's army moved into Rafah.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential building in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential building in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah). Picture: Alamy

The IDF said earlier that the Rafah crossing had been captured and cut off, with special forces now in the area.

It said 20 gunmen were killed and three tunnel shafts had been discovered by troops.

Israel's war cabinet confirmed late Monday that it had begun targeted strikes against Hamas in eastern Rafah.

World leaders previously urged Mr Netanyahu against the strikes on Rafah, warning of a humanitarian disaster.

Hamas said on Monday it would accept the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal, mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

But Israel indicated it would not agree to the "softened" deal.

Read more: Israel takes control of Rafah crossing in Gaza after dismissing Hamas' ceasefire proposal as 'ruse'

Read more: Israel orders 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate Rafah ahead of 'imminent' invasion

Sir Jeremy Greenstock on Netanyahu's 'isolation' of Israel

More than a million Palestinians have found refuge in Rafah amid the war in Gaza, with charities warning of a humanitarian crisis if the city came under fire.

The conflict has driven around 80 per cent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes and has destroyed several cities.

More than 34,500 people have been killed in Gaza, according to local health officials.

Israeli officials said those being ordered to evacuate Rafah would move from the city to a nearby Israel-declared humanitarian zone called Muwasi, a makeshift camp on the coast.

Tensions also escalated on Sunday when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli troops on the border with Gaza near Israel's main crossing for delivering humanitarian aid, killing four soldiers. Meanwhile, Israeli air strikes on Rafah killed 22 people, including children and two infants, according to a hospital.

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