Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood has met political and religious leaders in Israel after a visit to Gaza in which he said he was “profoundly shocked and saddened at the suffering of ordinary Gazans”.
Ellwood said he had “open and constructive discussions” about a range of issues with Justice Tzipi Livni, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
“I expressed my sincere hope that Israel takes the opportunity offered by the Cairo talks to address the fundamental causes of the conflict in Gaza, including a lifting of restrictions,” he said.
He also reiterated the UK’s long-standing concern about settlements, including the recent announcement about additional units at Givat Hamatos, which he said “undermines trust between the parties and has serious implications for the prospects of a two-state solution”.
His Israel visit follows a day in Gaza, including Shujaiyya, an area that witnessed heavy fighting in which an estimated 120 Palestinians were killed and over 400 wounded.
“I saw first-hand the disastrous consequences of this summer’s conflict in Gaza… I was profoundly shocked and saddened at the suffering ordinary Gazans,” he said.
“Action is urgently needed. Negotiations in Cairo present a genuine opportunity for the violence to end, to provide peace and security to Palestinians and Israelis and for movement and access restrictions to be lifted.”
He added: “It is important that the Palestinian Authority returns to Gaza to provide services and security to all Gazans.”