Rishi Sunak to address Commons to outline UK response to Israel-Gaza crisison October 16, 2023 at 2:05 am

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The prime minister will appear before MPs as concerns grow about the situation in the Middle East.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister's Questions, at the House of Commons in London.Image source, Reuters

Rishi Sunak is to address MPs to set out the government’s response to the unfolding crisis in the Middle East.

The session will follow a visit by the prime minister to show support for the Jewish community, Downing Street said.

It will also mark the first time Parliament has met since the four-week recess for party conference season.

Fears are growing of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, with the UN warning that the territory’s hospitals are likely to run out of fuel on Monday.

Hamas has said that some 400,000 of the 1.1m people in Gaza’s north have so far complied with Israel’s request that they move south.

Israel is preparing to launch a ground invasion in northern Gaza intended to target Hamas, which killed more than 1,300 people in a series of attacks on 7 October.

At least 17 British nationals are missing or confirmed dead following the attacks, and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Sunday that as many as 10 may be being held hostage.

On Monday, Mr Sunak will give a statement to Parliament “reiterating the UK’s total condemnation” of the attacks and “setting out the government’s approach to the developing crisis”, his office said.

He will outline the assistance the UK is providing to Israel, efforts to support British nationals caught up in the violence, and its response to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Earlier the same day, Mr Sunak will undertake a visit intended to demonstrate the government’s “continued support for the Jewish community” and “zero-tolerance for antisemitic abuse”.

Last week, he also chaired a roundtable meeting with police chiefs and announced £3m in additional funding for the Community Security Trust, a charity that works to improve the security of the Jewish community.

Following the attacks in Israel, the Metropolitan Police reported a “massive increase” in antisemitic incidents and offences in London.

On Monday, Mr Cleverly will also travel to the annual Berlin Process Summit of European and Western Balkan leaders, which this year is being held in Albanian capital Tirana, and will use the event to further rally support for Israel, the Foreign Office said.

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Diplomatic efforts by world leaders are under way to try to stop the conflict in Gaza escalating or dragging in other countries in the region.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Egypt, with which Gaza shares a border, for talks with the country’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

It was the latest stop on a tour that saw Mr Blinken hold talks in Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates as well as Israel.

Also on Sunday, Mr Sunak received King Abdullah of Jordan, who is on his own tour of European capitals, at Downing Street. The prime minister will hold further talks with international partners, including Middle Eastern leaders, in the coming days, his office said.

Concerns continue to mount about the situation inside Gaza and conditions for people still trapped there.

In recent days, US and UK officials have been trying to arrange for the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border – currently the only way out of the territory – to be opened to allow their citizens and dual nationals to leave.

Following his meeting with President Sisi, Mr Blinken said the crossing “will be reopened”, although he did not provide specifics, and said that he was working with the UN and others on a “mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it”.

Hundreds of tons of aid from several countries have been held up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula pending a deal that would allow it to be delivered via the crossing.

Map showing route of evacuation in Gaza

On Sunday, the UN’s humanitarian office warned that fuel reserves at Gaza hospitals were expected to last about another 24 hours.

“The shutdown of back-up generators would place the lives of thousands of patients at risk,” it said.

The mass movement of people to Gaza’s south has also placed huge strain on the territory’s already limited resources.

Last week, Israel cut off the supply of food, water, and energy to Gaza, although on Sunday it said it would resume the supply of water.

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