UK FM: Israel must ensure aid reaches Gazans, will breach international law if not

David Cameron tells House of Lords that unless Hamas removed from power, ‘any ceasefire won’t last because the problem will still be there’

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron answers questions in the House of Lords on February 13, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron answers questions in the House of Lords on February 13, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Britain Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Tuesday called for Israel to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Palestinian civilians in Gaza, warning it would violate international law if it does not, while also stressing that any ceasefire that leaves Hamas in power will not hold.

“What is happening in Gaza is tragic. We want to see an end to the suffering and end to this killing,” he said during question time in the House of Lords. “The pause we’re calling for, we want to turn into a ceasefire by making sure that the conditions are right.”

Cameron said these conditions included getting “the Hamas leaders out of Gaza, otherwise any ceasefire won’t last because the problem will still be there. You have to dismantle the operation of terrorist attacks.”

“You got to have a new Palestinian Authority government in place. You have got to give the Palestinian people a political horizon to a better future and a two-state solution. And crucially, you have to release all of the hostages and do that very quickly,” he added.

Cameron said he has “personally challenged” Israel over specific incidents in Gaza, after being pressed about the high-profile death of a young Gaza girl who had pleaded for rescue and then was found killed.

“We will continue to do that as part of a very important process we go through to judge whether they are in compliance with international humanitarian law,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with British Foreign Minister David Cameron in Jerusalem, January 24, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Cameron was asked if he was “aware of any moves by Hamas to protect the children of Gaza,” by releasing the hostages, stopping attacks on Israel and having its leaders flee to the Gulf. He responded by noting the Israeli children killed and kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during the Hamas-led October 7 onslaught.

“It’s right that in this house, we keep asking what else Israel should do, but we should also, at the very same time, say what Hamas should do, which is to lay down their weapons and stop right now. They could stop this fight immediately,” the foreign secretary said.

Cameron then reiterated that “our goal” should be brokering a halt in the fighting that leads to a permanent ceasefire, “but crucially the pause is necessary to get the aid in and the hostages out.”

He also urged Israel to “stop and think” before carrying out any operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.

“The people who are in Rafah on many occasions have already moved three, four or five times. And it’s not possible to move again. They can’t go north because they’d be going back to homes that have been destroyed. They can’t go south because that would involve going into Egypt, which none of us want to see, and the Egyptians do not want to see,” he said.

“That is why it’s so important the Israelis stop and think before going ahead with any operations in Rafah.”

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo cleared for publication on February 13, 2024. (IDF)

Cameron said that while Israel had “every right to respond” to the October 7 attack, describing it as “the biggest pogrom since the Holocaust,” it “must obey international humanitarian law.”

“That involves not only what the IDF do in terms of the way they prosecute their actions in terms of this war, but it also means as they are the occupying power in Gaza, that they have to make sure that humanitarian aid, that food, water and shelter are available to people in Gaza, because if they do not do that, that would be a breach of international humanitarian law as well,” he said.

Additionally, Cameron was asked if “premature unilateral recognition” of a Palestinian state would reward Hamas, which he has recently said Britain is considering doing.

“Of course, it isn’t rewarding Hamas,” he insisted. “Hamas do not believe in a two-state solution; they believe in the destruction of Israel.”

“We have got to try to help separate the Palestinian people from Hamas,” Cameron continued. “One of the best ways of doing that… is to offer Palestinian people… better governance with a reformed Palestinian Authority and the long-term horizon of a two-state solution.”

“Just because [recognition] doesn’t happen at the beginning, it doesn’t mean it has to wait right till the end. One of the things that is beginning to change, which I think is hopeful, is the American posture [which] up to now has been that recognition can only come when Israel and Palestine agree on the creation of a Palestinian state. If you do that, you do… effectively give Israel a veto over a Palestinian state, and I think that’s the opposite of creating the sort of unstoppable momentum toward a two-state solution that we all want to see.”

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