Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has come under pressure to alter the government’s stance on Israel’s action in Gaza.
Stourbridge MP Margot James, a strong supporter of Israel who has visited the country with Conservative Friends of Israel, said she was aghast at the scale of Palestinian suffering.
In a letter to Mr Hammond, published by Channel 4 News, Ms James wrote: “My constituents, not all of them Muslim, regard the Israeli action as wholly disproportionate to the threat posed by Hamas.
“I have for many years been a firm supporter of Israel. I remain a supporter of Israel’s right to security, and to a state in which their citizens can live without fear of bombardment.
“However I do not think that the swift, and terrible, elimination of so many Palestinian lives, homes, hospitals and schools can be deemed a proportionate response to the crude rocket fire to which Israel is undoubtedly subject.”
Ms James is a former adviser to trade minister Lord Livingston and has been appointed as parliamentary private secretary to William Hague following his departure as Foreign Secretary last month.
In the letter, the MP admits that Hamas “bears substantial responsibility for the lives lost on both sides” and attacks the “deliberate use of the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians as, in effect, human shields”.
But she concluded: “I ask that the government rethinks policy towards the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The scale of suffering in Gaza is far too great, the loss of life, and particularly the lives of children and other vulnerable individuals, cannot be justified on the grounds of defence in proportion to the level of threat faced by Israel from Hamas.”
Since becoming Foreign Secretary, Mr Hammond has said Israel’s Operation Protective Edge has undermined its support in the West, but has held back from condemning the action as “disproportionate”.