Sunak pledges 'important UK role' in Gaza aid as he meets El Sisi and Abbas

UK Prime Minister travels to Cairo on third day of Middle East visit to address Israel-Gaza war

Egypt's President El Sisi meets British PM Sunak in Cairo

Egypt's President El Sisi meets British PM Sunak in Cairo
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Britain on Friday promised to play an “important role” in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders to wrap up his tour of the region.

Mr Sunak was told of fears of a mass displacement from Gaza during face-to-face talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo.

In separate talks with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on preventing a “contagion of conflict” in the Middle East, Mr Sunak said the UK “believes very strongly in providing extra humanitarian aid into Gaza”.

“We look forward to playing an important role together with Egypt in making sure that aid can get to people as quickly as possible,” he said.

Mr Sunak met the two leaders after travelling from Saudi Arabia to Egypt on the third day of his trip to address the Gaza crisis.

He offered Mr Abbas condolences for civilian deaths in Gaza including the “terrible destruction” of the Al Ahli hospital, Downing Street said.

The leaders “condemned Hamas's terrorism and stressed that Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people”, according to Mr Sunak's representative.

“The Prime Minister underscored his commitment to opening up humanitarian access to Gaza to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people who desperately need food, water and medicine.

“The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s long-standing commitment to the two-state solution and to achieving a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security.”

The Palestinian leader categorically rejected the displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or Jerusalem, a report from the Wafa news agency said.

Downing Street said the UK's priority was for the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt to be open for British nationals to leave and humanitarian aid to enter the strip.

A convoy bringing supplies of food, medicine and water is waiting for repairs to roads on the Palestinian side of the crossing, after they were damaged in Israeli air strikes.

Sarah Champion, the chairwoman of the UK Parliament's cross-party international development committee, on Friday described Mr Sunak's offer of £10 million ($12.1 million) in extra Palestinian aid as “pitiful”.

Mr Sunak called on “all leaders” to work together to “avoid any regional escalation” following Hamas’s attacks on Israel.

“We now mourn the loss of every innocent life that has been lost. People of every faith, of every nationality. Palestinians are victims of Hamas too,” he told Mr El Sisi.

“That is why what we are doing on the aid side together is so important. I also share with you a vision for the Palestinian people where they can live with security and opportunity and dignity.”

The twe leaders “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 UK government said.

Mr Sunak has held talks with the leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar during his trip, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also in the region.

In his Riyadh meeting with Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim, Mr Sunak said the UK would use “all tools at our disposal” to support Qatari efforts to have hostages released by Hamas.

The two leaders “agreed that leaders had a responsibility to do everything possible” to prevent violence from escalating across the region, according to Mr Sunak's office.

Egypt is expected to hold a peace summit on Saturday, two weeks after the surprise Hamas offensive on Israeli settlements in which more than 1,400 people were killed and about 200 taken captive back to Gaza.

Retaliatory Israeli bombardments of Gaza have killed more than 4,000 people.

There are concerns that the Israel-Gaza war will grow into a wider regional conflict.

Egypt and Jordan have both ruled out taking in Palestinian refugees.

Nine British nationals are confirmed to have been killed in the Hamas raids on October 7, while a further seven are missing, with some “feared to be among the dead or kidnapped”, Downing Street said.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 4:45 PM