Cameron expresses 'deep concern' over Gaza in Gantz meeting

UK Foreign Secretary also holds talks with Qatar as pressure on Israel continues to grow

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Photo: David Cameron / X
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British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has expressed “deep concern” over Israel's anticipated military offensive in Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

In a meeting with Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, Mr Cameron “made clear the steps Israel must take” in getting aid to Gaza. The 30-minute meeting in London was described by officials as direct and to the point.

Palestinians were “facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis”, Lord Cameron said in a Foreign Office statement after the meeting on Wednesday.

He also discussed the crisis in Gaza in separate talks with Qatar's Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

The meeting focused on "efforts for reaching an immediate ceasefire in the strip, protecting civilians, and ensuring continued and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid", a Qatari statement said.

With Mr Gantz, Mr Cameron likewise discussed efforts to secure a humanitarian pause to ensure Israeli hostages were returned home and life-saving supplies were delivered to Gaza.

“I made clear the steps Israel must take to increase aid into Gaza, and the UK's deep concern about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah. These are tough but necessary conversations,” he said on X.

“I once again press Israel to increase the flow of aid,” Mr Cameron said. “We are still not seeing improvements on the ground. This must change.”

A pause in the fighting would need to be followed by increased distribution of aid through land and maritime routes, as well as critical items for repairing infrastructure.

“The UK is also deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah,” Mr Cameron said.

He warned that, as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel has a legal responsibility to ensure aid is available for civilians.

“Responsibility has consequences including when we as the UK, assess whether Israel is compliant with international humanitarian law.”

Latest from the Israel-Gaza war – in pictures

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also met Mr Gantz later in the day to discuss the urgent need for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, getting far more aid in and bringing the hostages safely home.

The former defence minister is seen as most likely to succeed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if his far-right coalition collapses.

Mr Gantz, leader of the centrist National Unity Party, has seen his popularity rise in recent polls, gaining three times more approval than Mr Netanyahu, whose support has dropped over his handling of the Israel-Gaza war.

Gantz defies Netanyahu after Washington visit

Mr Gantz’s decision to defy Mr Netanyahu and travel to Washington, where he met Vice President Kamala Harris, and London may show fissures in the fragile Israeli war cabinet.

“It means that Gantz has decided that there's no point in hiding or camouflaging the deep differences that are in the war cabinet,” Dan Avnon, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The National.

Israel's Benny Gantz visits Washington as rumours swirl of a rift with Benjamin Netanyahu – video

Israel's Benny Gantz visits Washington as rumours swirl of rift with Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel's Benny Gantz visits Washington as rumours swirl of rift with Benjamin Netanyahu

The visit adds to growing speculation that Israel’s closest allies are increasingly frustrated with Mr Netanyahu’s intransigence on the Gaza war, particularly regarding the desperate need to distribute more humanitarian aid in the strip.

US President Joe Biden's administration has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to curtail Israel's war efforts.

Updated: March 07, 2024, 11:59 AM