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PM call with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel: 15 February 2024

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this afternoon.

He reaffirmed the UK’s continued support for Israel’s right to defend its people against Hamas’ terror and ensure its long-term security. 

The Prime Minister said the UK was deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in Gaza and the potentially devastating humanitarian impact of a military incursion into Rafah. He reiterated that the immediate priority must be negotiating a humanitarian pause to allow the safe release of hostages and to facilitate considerably more aid going to Gaza, leading to a longer-term sustainable ceasefire. For there to be lasting peace, Israel’s security must be assured.

The Prime Minister highlighted the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urged Israel to fully open the Kerem Shalom crossing and allow the maritime delivery of international aid through Ashdod port, which the UK stood ready to support on. 

He noted the importance of continuing to abide by International Humanitarian Law and protecting civilian infrastructure like hospitals and shelters. The Prime Minister said more must be done to ease restrictions on humanitarian supplies and ensure the UN and aid agencies can reach civilians in need throughout Gaza. 

The Prime Minister updated on his recent meeting with the families of British hostages held by Hamas and they discussed urgent ongoing efforts to bring hostages safely home, as well as steps to ensure any remaining British nationals who wish to leave Gaza are able to do so. 

Turning to wider issues, the Prime Minister said it was vital to avoid inflaming tensions and undermining security in the West Bank. In the longer term, the UK continued to believe a viable two state solution was the best means to achieve lasting peace and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians. They agreed that Hamas can have no role in the future governance of Gaza.

The leaders also discussed regional issues, and the Prime Minister set out how the UK is supporting efforts to de-escalate the situation on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and avoid further conflict or threats to Israeli citizens.

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