The one-line question, put forward by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, asked “the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to make a statement on the violence at the Gaza border and its impact on the Middle East peace process.” However she was unable to finish her question before Johnson had scuttled out of the Commons.
Johnson laid low in terms of a response to the latest Gaza violence, preferring instead to hand over responsibilities to his Foreign Office colleague, Alistair Burt, who initially blamed the violence on ‘extremist elements’.
Extremely saddened by loss of life in Gaza today. Concerned peaceful protests are being exploited by extremist elements. Urge restraint in use of live fire. Violence is destructive to peace efforts. UK remains committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.
— Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtUK) May 14, 2018
The Foreign Secretary’s action drew dismay from social media users, with some calling his behavior “pathetic” and others saying it was “appalling”.
This is the moment our pathetic disgrace of a Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson scuttles out of the House of Commons to avoid Urgent Question on the Gaza Massacre https://t.co/P6EKFPUgXV
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) May 15, 2018
I’m not obsessed with Parliamentary procedure and convention and the like but I do feel it is appalling and telling that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson walked out of the House of Commons Chamber rather than answer Emily Thornberry’s Urgent Question on the killings in Gaza.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) May 15, 2018
— Nadeem Ahmed (@Muqadaam) May 15, 2018
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that, of those Palestinians injured on Monday, 1,359 were wounded as a result of live ammunition, and of those, 130 people are in a critical condition, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Since Palestinians called for the ‘Great March of Return’ on March 30, where protesters have demanded the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants with a series of demonstrations, around 100 Palestinians have been killed, including 12 children and injuries have passed 12,200, of which nearly 7,000 have been hospitalized. Over 50% of those have been injured by live ammunition fired by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), the OCHA said in the occupied Palestinian territory report.
Johnson appeared to be taking a leaf out of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s book on ‘how to avoid awkward questions’. Last week Hunt used the same tactic to duck out of an urgent question on the Learning Disability Mortality Review from Labour MP Barbara Keeley.