LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo and passed on his condolences over the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, including Tuesday’s rocket strike on Al-Ahli hospital.
Palestinian officials said 471 people were killed in the explosion which they blamed on an Israeli air attack, but Israel claimed it was caused by a failed rocket launch by Palestinian militants.
In a statement following the meeting, his office said: “The leaders agreed on the need for all parties to take steps to protect civilians, and civilian infrastructure, and minimize the loss of innocent lives.
“They condemned Hamas’ terrorism and stressed that Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people.”
Meeting with President Abbas today I expressed my condolences for the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, including at the Al Ahli hospital.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 20, 2023
We know Hamas doesn't speak for the Palestinian people.
The UK supports the Palestinian Authority in trying to establish stability. pic.twitter.com/8ISeSaUV1m
Sunak noted his commitment to opening up humanitarian access to Gaza to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people who desperately need food, water, and medicine and he reiterated the UK’s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution and achieving a future where Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace and security.
The PM also held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
“They agreed that global leaders should do everything possible to avoid a contagion of conflict in the region, and that every effort must be made to stop terrorism and protect civilians,” the statement added.
Sunak updated El-Sisi and Abbas on the conversations he has had with leaders in the region during his visit, in which they agreed on the importance of keeping up dialogue to prevent regional escalation.
Every effort must be made to stop terrorism and protect civilians.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 20, 2023
That's what @AlsisiOfficial and I agreed when we spoke in Cairo earlier today.
I welcome efforts by Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing, and I will continue working with leaders to find routes to peace. pic.twitter.com/bKIWcqjKe5
The British premier welcomed efforts by Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza as soon as possible and said that the UK was committed to playing its part in helping the civilians of Gaza and alleviating the dire humanitarian situation there.
“Sunak said that £10 million ($12.1 million) uplift to the UK’s humanitarian aid to the region was the first manifestation of that commitment,” his office said.
As a next step, the leaders agreed to work together to ensure the process of getting aid into Gaza was as efficient and effective as possible and vowed to keep in close contact over the coming days.