Background and timeline:
- Brigadier John Deverell CBE, former Director of Defence Diplomacy at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), has coordinated a letter from military and foreign policy experts to UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron.
- It calls for the UK to work with other members of the UN Security Council to bring forward a renewed resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza, and then to vote in favour of it.
- We will release the letter to the media first thing in the morning on Tuesday 19 December, ahead of the UNSC vote expected that day.
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Dear Foreign Secretary,
In Gaza, well over 10,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces in just over two months, with women and children accounting for two thirds of all fatalities. Since Hamas’ appalling attack on 7th October, the Israeli military has inflicted infrastructural destruction in Gaza that experts say is comparable to the devastation of Aleppo and Mariupol. More than 250 medical professionals and over 60 journalists and media workers have been killed – and the daily death toll of Palestinian children far exceeds those at the height of wars in Ukraine, Yemen and Syria.
As a group of military and foreign policy experts, we firmly believe it is in the interest of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and indeed all in the wider region, for the current hostilities to de-escalate, to let aid in and hostages safely out, and pave the way for a negotiated solution.
We note your slight positive change in tone late last week. However, the UK’s continued rejection of an immediate ceasefire is strategically ill-advised and morally indefensible. Conventional military wisdom is clear: political solutions stop conflict, free hostages and protect innocent civilians. Aerial bombardment does not. The longer violence goes on, the harder it will be to reduce tensions between Palestinian and Israeli communities.
The international consensus is overwhelming – 153 countries supported an immediate ceasefire at the UN General Assembly, and the US and UK were the only countries not to vote in favour of a series of measures and resolutions on an immediate ceasefire at the UN Security Council. These votes left the US and UK increasingly isolated, and at risk of becoming complicit in breaches of international law in Gaza.
The UK does not have to follow America’s lead – particularly when US public and diplomatic opinion is far from unified. In 2009, despite intense political pressure from Washington DC, the UK decided to vote in favour of a ceasefire in Gaza under Resolution 1860. As a result, the US abstained – within a week the bombs stopped falling.
We implore the United Kingdom to once again work with all other members of the UN Security Council to ensure a renewed resolution for an immediate ceasefire is brought forward, and then to vote in favour of it. Ultimately, the first step to securing a sustainable ceasefire is to stop the fighting now, sparing the lives of civilians on both sides. Active international pressure, diplomacy and negotiation are the only route to durable stability and security across the region.
General The Lord David Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO DL, Chief of the Defence Staff 2010-13
Brigadier John Deverell CBE, former Director of Diplomacy at the Ministry of Defence and Senior British Officer Palestinian Territories
General Sir Michael Rose KCB CBE DSO QGM, former Commander UN Forces Bosnia
Dr Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, former EU Representative to Palestine and EU Ambassador to Mozambique and South Sudan
Sir Richard Dalton, former Ambassador to Iran and Libya, and Consul-General, Jerusalem
Sir Vincent Fean, former Ambassador to Libya and Consul-General, Jerusalem
Dr H A Hellyer, Senior Associate Fellow in International Security Studies, RUSI and former ESRC Fellow at the FCDO’s Research Analysts’ Counter-Terrorism Team
Robin Kealy, former Ambassador to Tunisia, and Consul-General, Jerusalem
Oliver McTernan, Director at Forward Thinking
Peter Millett, former Ambassador to Libya, Jordan and High Commissioner to Cyprus
Sir William Patey, former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Sudan
Professor William Quandt, formerly of the U.S. National Security Council with responsibility for the Middle East, 1972-74 and 1977-79
Lt Col (Retd) Dr Paul Reavley, Paediatric Emergency Medicine Consultant and Co-founder Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership
Sir Harold Walker, former Ambassador to Iraq, Ethiopia, UAE and Bahrain
James Watt CVO, Former HM Diplomatic Service, Ambassador to Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt
The Balfour Project adds: the above letter underestimates the Palestinian death toll in Gaza as of Monday week beginning 18 Dec, 2023, by about 50 per cent. Those deaths under Israeli bombardment since 7 Oct, 2023, in Gaza alone (not including those in the West Bank) have been estimated at 20,000 by the Gaza Ministry of Health, whose statistics in previous bombardments and exchanges with Israel have been found to be accurate by indpendent organisations such as the ICRC and the various UN agencies concerned.