Sunak warns Israel-Hamas war risks spilling into Middle East

The PM returned from his tour of the Middle East.

Sunak warns Israel-Hamas war risks spilling into Middle East
An Israeli tank and military vehicles are seen near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 22, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura
An Israeli tank and military vehicles stationed near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip (Picture: Reuters)

Rishi Sunak warned ‘there can be no justification’ for the horrors committed by Hamas as tens of thousands of people marched through central London in against Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

The prime minister returned after his whirlwind tour of the Middle East where he held crisis talks with the leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on what can be done to prevent the war spiral.

Follow the latest updates on the Israel-Hamas conflict on our live blog

He stressed that fighting between Israel and Hamas risks unleashing a ‘contagion of conflict’ across the region.

20/10/2023. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street
Sunak meeting with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Picture: No 10 Downing Street)

‘The overwhelming view I got from everyone I spoke to this week was that we need to do everything possible to stop a contagion of conflict in the region,’ the PM said.

‘We need to keep our aspirations for a more peaceful and stable future firmly in our sights as we work together to defeat the evil of terrorism.’

His departure came as [resident Biden said his Egyptian counterpart Sisi agreed to open the Rafah crossing to allow 20 trucks of aid into Gaza.

Sunak said the opening was an example of what could be achieved through diplomacy.

He said: ‘The reopening of the Rafah crossing into Gaza is testament to the power of diplomacy, with the US, Israel and Egypt brokering an agreement to ensure that vital aid reaches the Palestinian people.

‘We’re working closely with Egypt to ensure that the UK plays our part in ensuring those Palestinians get the food, water and medicine they so desperately need.’

The PM’s trip ran in parallel with one by the foreign secretary who travelled to Egypt, Turkey and Qatar.

James Cleverly said he wanted Brits trapped in Gaza to be able to leave through the Rafah crossing but acknowledged it was not yet safe enough to do so.

‘Ultimately, we want to see the Rafah crossing safe enough that foreign nationals in Gaza are able to leave,’ he told the Sunday Times.

‘We are only going to call British nationals forward when we are confident that there will be a long enough period for them to credibly, safely leave Gaza and we are not yet in that position.’

He said officials were working ‘very, very closely with the Egyptian government, with the Qataris and other players in the region – including Israel, of course – to try and get to a situation where there is enough stability, for long enough, to give British nationals a credible opportunity to leave’.

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