Rishi Sunak has landed in Israel beginning a two-day trip to the Middle East where he will stress to international leaders the need to limit civilian casualties from the Israel-Gaza crisis and prevent the conflict from escalating in the region.
The prime minister’s visit comes after US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday, announcing that limited quantities of humanitarian aid will be allowed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
After landing on Thursday morning, Sunak will hold talks with the country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President, Isaac Herzog.
He will then travel to a number of regional capitals and meet with counterparts from across the Middle East. The government has not confirmed his full travel plans due to security reasons.
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During his meetings, the prime minister will share his condolences for those who have died in both Israel and Gaza, since Hamas – a proscribed terror group – launched an unprecedented attack in southern Israel nearly two weeks ago.
He will tell leaders that any civilian death is a tragedy and urge the international community to not allow the fighting to spill over into neighbouring countries.
Following on from President Biden’s announcement, Sunak will call for humanitarian aid to be allowed into and British nationals to exit Gaza as soon as possible.
Sunak’s overseas trip will coincide with the foreign secretary visiting Egypt, Turkey and Qatar over the next three days. James Cleverly will use the trip to underscore the UK’s messages.
ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston outlines Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s trip to Israel and his stance on the al-Ahli hospital explosion
Ahead of his trip, Sunak said: “Every civilian death is a tragedy. And too many lives have been lost following Hamas’ horrific act of terror.
“The attack on al Ahli Hospital should be a watershed moment for leaders in the region and across the world to come together to avoid further dangerous escalation of conflict.
“I will ensure the UK is at the forefront of this effort.”
Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland – who helped facilitate the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine – has demanded Sunak call for an immediate ceasefire in the region.
Egeland told ITV’s Peston: “Of course Rishi Sunak has to call for an immediate ceasefire, an opening of the border, humanitarian access and evacuation of the wounded and the sick, and the release of hostages.
“And then some serious talks on the root causes of this terrible thing, which is that Israel is not safe, and the Palestinians have no safety either, they have no justice, they have no hopes, they have only misery around them.”
Israel has agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, via its border crossing with Egypt, on the understanding it would be subject to inspections and that it should go to civilians and not Hamas militants.
President Biden has said the aid will begin arriving into Gaza “as soon as possible”, but as of yet no timetable has been given for when the Rafah border crossing will re-open.
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