Urging Israel to show restraint amid mounting concerns about the fate of civilians in Gaza ahead of an imminent offensive, the Foreign Secretary said Hamas was ‘not a friend to the Palestinian people’.
Mr Cleverly added that it was not ‘unreasonable’ to estimate that around ten British civilians were taken hostage by Hamas in last week’s assault – and said there were British nationals among the dead and wounded. But he added: ‘I’m really, really uncomfortable implying that there is certainty where frankly there isn’t.’
In a statement to Parliament today, Rishi Sunak will condemn Hamas’ attack.
He is also expected to demonstrate his support for the Jewish community on a visit today.
Urging Israel to show restraint amid mounting concerns about the fate of civilians in Gaza ahead of an imminent offensive, the Foreign Secretary said Hamas was ‘not a friend to the Palestinian people’. Pictured: On the BBC’s ‘Sunday Morning’
Last night, he met King Abdullah of Jordan at No 10. A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘They discussed diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation in the wider Middle East.’
The United Nations, senior EU figures and aid agencies have all expressed alarm as many Palestinians struggle to flee ahead of a ‘co-ordinated’ offensive in the Gaza Strip involving air, ground and naval forces.
Mr Cleverly said yesterday that the UK remained ‘absolutely committed’ to international law but declined to say whether the Government fears that some actions in Gaza amount to breaches of this. He told the Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme on the BBC: ‘When we see breaches of that we raise that, including with Israel.’
He earlier told Sky News: ‘Friends speak honestly with friends and we have a very, very good working relationship with the Israeli government and whenever I have spoken to them I have reinforced the UK’s position about the preservation of life, the avoidance of civilian casualties.
‘I know the Israelis completely understand that, [Israel’s] President Herzog has said their operations will be in accordance with international law.
‘I have said it’s in Israel’s interest to avoid civilian casualties and Palestinian casualties because Hamas clearly wants to turn this into a wider Arab-Israeli war or indeed a war between the Muslim world and the wider world and none of us, including Israel, want that to be the case and so that’s why we do give that strong advice from a position of friendship.’
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