Politics

Rishi Sunak warns Israel-Hamas war risks ‘contagion of conflict’ in Middle East

The prime minister has warned the Israel-Hamas war risks unleashing a “contagion of conflict” across the Middle East. 

Rishi Sunak, who met with leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week, said they had agreed “we need to do everything possible” to stop the spread of the war.

He said his two-day visit to the region demonstrated “that the UK stands in solidarity with them against terrorism” and that “there can be no justification” for the atrocities committed by Hamas.

“The overwhelming view I got from everyone I spoke to this week was that we need to do everything possible to stop a contagion of conflict in the region,” he said.

“I wanted to sit down with other leaders and talk face to face. Because in times of tension and division, it’s more important than ever to accelerate diplomatic efforts,” he added.

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Saturday’s opening of the Rafah border crossing to allow an aid convoy into Gaza was “testament to the power of diplomacy”, he said.

More than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tonnes of aid have been waiting on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing amid intense diplomatic negotiations.

While 20 trucks were allowed into Gaza, Hamas and aid workers have warned the supplies were insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

“We’re working closely with Egypt to ensure that the UK plays our part in ensuring those Palestinians get the food, water and medicine they so desperately need,” Mr Sunak said.

“We need to keep our aspirations for a more peaceful and stable future firmly in our sights as we work together to defeat the evil of terrorism.”

The prime minister’s comments came after 100,000 people marched through central London in a show of solidarity for Palestine and to demand an immediate end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, speaking at a peace summit in Cairo on Saturday, said Israel had the right to defend itself against Hamas in Gaza.

But with the Israeli military preparing a ground offensive, Mr Cleverly said they needed to show “discipline, professionalism and restraint” in actions against Hamas.

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‘I still believe in diplomacy’, James Cleverly tells peace summit

“The UK is clear and has been consistently clear that Israel has the right to self-defence and the right to secure the release of those who were kidnapped on October 7,” Mr Cleverly said.

“And we are also clear that we must work, and they must work, to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza, and that their actions are in accordance with international law.”

Mr Cleverly said he had raised the need to protect civilians with the Tel Aviv government.

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