Rishi Sunak Announces Extra £10m International Aid To Palestinian People
Rishi Sunak addressed the House of Commons on Monday (parliamentlive.tv)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced the UK will increase international aid to Palestinians by a third with an additional £10m of support, as the bloody conflict in the Middle East continues.
Israel is poised to launch a ground offensive on the Gaza Strip after terrorist organisation Hamas killed at least 1,300 Israeli civilians and took hundreds of hostages in a series of surprise attacks last weekend.
On Friday morning, Israel ordered Gaza’s population of 1.1m to move to the south of the territory, an order which has faced serious criticism with many arguing that the movement of so many people within Gaza's already devastated infrastructure would be "impossible".
Giving a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, Sunak confirmed that at least six British citizens have been killed, with a further 10 missing.
The Prime Minister announced an increase in international aid, along with a commitment to increasing the UK’s regional engagement in the Middle East to prevent further escalation of the conflict.
“I'm proud that we are a long standing and significant provider of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people,” he said.
“I can announce today that we are increasing our aid by a third, with an additional £10m of support. An acute humanitarian crisis is unfolding, to which we must respond.”
Sunak said that the UK must support “absolutely” Israel’s “right to defend itself”, but warned that Israel’s response must be done “in line with international humanitarian law”.
“This must be done in line with international humanitarian law, but also recognizing that they face a vicious enemy that embeds itself behind civilians,” he said.
“As a friend, we will continue to call on Israel to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”
The Prime Minister said that he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu twice in the last week, along with representatives from the United States, France, Germany, and Italy, as well leaders of Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
“Our partners in the region have asked us to play a role in preventing further escalation,” he said.
“That is what we will do. However hard it is, we need to ask the tough questions about how we can revive the long term prospects for a two state solution, for normalisation and regional stability.”
The Prime Minister also directly addressed Jews and Muslims living in the UK, and said the UK government stands with both communities.
"I want to address the British Jewish community directly: As I said at Finchley United synagogue last week, and the Jewish school I visited this morning. We stand with you now and always,” he said, repeating the government’s pledge to provide an additional £3m for protections to Jewish schools, synagogues, and community buildings," he continued.
“I also recognize that this is a moment of great anguish for British Muslim communities, who are also appalled by Hamas’ actions and are fearful of the response.
“We must listen to these concerns. We mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith, every nationality, who have been killed. And so, let's say it plainly: We stand with British Muslim communities too.”
Speaking after the prime minister, Labour leader Keir Starmer echoed Sunak’s commitment to protecting both Jewish and Muslim communities in the UK.
“We cannot allow community cohesion in our country to be destroyed, we all bear responsibility to do all we can to stamp out hate,” he said.
“Let's send a strong message: Westminster is united, Britain is united with Israel against terror, for international law and the protection of innocent lives.”
Starmer also argued for the need for there to be “humanitarian corridors” to provide food, water and aid to Palestinians trapped under threat from air attacks.
“There must be humanitarian corridors, there must be humanitarian access, including food, water, electricity and medicines, so that hospitals can keep people alive and so the innocent people do not needlessly die,” the Labour leader said.
He agreed with Sunak that engagement with Arab nations in the Middle East should be “strengthened” to respond to the crisis, and unequivocally stated that the responsibility for the conflict “lies with Hamas”.
Both party leaders showed solidarity with the US approach, with Sunak and Starmer quoting President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken respectively.
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