Rishi Sunak has arrived in Israel for a two-day trip to the country and the wider region to offer his support while warning against a “dangerous escalation of conflict”.
The PM is expected to meet the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, before travelling to a number of other regional capitals in a diplomatic bid to prevent fighting from spiralling.
Sunak is expected to urge Israel to open up the route into Gaza for humanitarian aid as soon as possible and the exit of those trapped in the territory, while sharing his condolences for the “terrible” loss of life following the attacks by Hamas.
It represents part of a diplomatic push by Britain with foreign secretary James Cleverly set to travel to Egypt, Turkey and Qatar over the next few days.
“I am meeting counterparts from influential states in the region to push for calm and stability, facilitate humanitarian access into Gaza and work together to secure the release of hostages”, Cleverly has said.
Rishi Sunak said ahead of his trip: “Every civilian death is a tragedy. And too many lives have been lost following Hamas’s 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.”
His visit comes after US president Joe Biden flew into Israel on Wednesday. He backed Israel over the al-Ahli Hospital explosion by saying that the “other team” were behind it.
Joe Biden also urged Israel not to be “consumed by” rage in the wake of Hamas’ attack. He called on the government to avoid making the same “mistakes” that the US did after 9/11.
The UK government is committed to publishing an assessment of who was behind the blast at the the al-Ahli Hospital as Israel and Hamas issued rival claims.
On Wednesday morning, Sunak said that he would not “rush to judgment before we have all the facts on this awful situation”
At prime minister’s questions in the Commons, Sunak said: “Our intelligence services have been rapidly analysing the evidence to independently establish the facts. We are not in a position at this point to say more than that.”
The PM said he is also working with Qatar in an attempt to secure the release of British hostages held by Hamas.
“The Qatari government is taking a lead and working intensely to help release hostages using their contacts in the region and we are working very closely with them to ensure the safe return of the British hostages”, he said.
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