The events we have seen unfolding in Israel are truly horrific. The Government has rightly and utterly condemned the appalling terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that began on 7 October.
These attacks are abhorrent and unprecedented. They have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned. Terrorists have massacred families in their homes, slaughtered over 200 young people enjoying a music festival, and kidnapped elderly women, children, and entire families, who are being held as hostages. My thoughts are with those who have been affected, especially the families of those who have been murdered.
I welcome the Government's steadfast support for Israel as it seeks to defend itself against these atrocities, as guaranteed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Israel has the right to take action against Hamas, and as the Prime Minister has said, Israel has the right to take back the hostages, deter further incursions and strengthen its long-term security, so as to deter malign external interference by those who seek to inflame tensions. Britain, along with France, Germany, Italy and the United States is resolved to ensure Hamas’ terrorist campaign fails.
I agree with the Prime Minister who said this week to the House of Commons:
“We stand resolutely with Israel in defending itself against terror. And I stressed again the need to act in line with international humanitarian law and take every possible step to avoid harming civilians. It was a message delivered by a close friend and ally. I say it again, we stand with Israel. I recognise that the Palestinian people are suffering terribly. Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed in this conflict. They are also the victims of Hamas, who embed themselves in the civilian population. Too many lives have already been lost. And the humanitarian crisis is growing.”
The Prime Minister has raised humanitarian support during his meetings with the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, and during the Foreign Secretary’s recent visit to the region, he spoke to counterparts in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to work with them to push for agreement on ongoing humanitarian access to Gaza.
The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is deeply troubling. On 23 October the Government announced an additional £20 million of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. This additional funding more than doubles Britain’s previous support for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and means that this country continues to be at the forefront of the global effort to help the Palestinian people access the vital support they need. The Government will consider further support depending on changing humanitarian needs on the ground.
However, funding alone is not enough. I welcome the extensive diplomatic efforts Britain is making to ensure humanitarian support reaches those who need it. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary are working tirelessly, supported by colleagues, to support the region.
Looking to the long-term, it is clear that we must not lose sight of how essential a two-state solution is.
This is an ongoing and fast moving situation. As the Prime Minister has said, we will work together with our international partners to bring renewed energy and creativity to this effort, looking for more effective governance for Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, and challenging actions that undercut legitimate aspirations for Palestinian statehood.