Lord Cameron calls for ‘stop to the fighting right now’ in Gaza

Lord Cameron has called for “a stop to the fighting right now” in Gaza rather than an all-out Israeli offensive in Rafah.

The Foreign Secretary said the violence should pause “straight away” after a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet threatened to invade the city unless hostages held by Hamas are freed by Ramadan.

The UK Government has resisted supporting calls for an immediate ceasefire, instead backing a “sustainable” cessation of hostilities, but international pressure has mounted on Israel amid concerns over an incursion in Rafah.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Stanley in the Falkland Islands, Lord Cameron said: “We are calling for a stop to the fighting right now, we think that what we need is a pause in the fighting and the hostages to come out and aid to go in. That should happen straight away.

“Then what we need to do is turn that pause into a permanent, sustainable ceasefire.

“Lots of things will have to happen in order for that to be the case and for fighting not to resume. We are going to have to see Hamas leaders leave Gaza, we are going to have to see the machinery of terrorism taken down, we are going to have to see a proper horizon for the Palestinian people, a new Palestinian government.

“But let’s make that happen, let’s have the stop to the fighting now, have that hostage release and then build on it from here. That’s what we need to happen rather than an offensive in Rafah.”

As ceasefire negotiations struggle after signs of progress in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu has brushed off growing calls to halt the military offensive in Gaza and vowed to “finish the job”.

The US, Israel’s top ally, says it still hopes to broker a ceasefire and hostage-release agreement and envisions a wider resolution of the war sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack in southern Israel.

But while the international community overwhelmingly supports an independent Palestinian state as part of a future peace agreement, Mr Netanyahu’s government is filled with hardliners who oppose Palestinian independence.

In response to concern over a Rafah offensive, he has said Palestinian civilians will be evacuated, but it is unclear where they will go as Gaza remains largely devastated.

In recent weeks, Lord Cameron has suggested steps should be taken towards towards potentially recognising a Palestinian state, saying that to do so “isn’t rewarding Hamas”.

His latest comments come ahead of an SNP-led vote in the Commons this week on support for an immediate ceasefire.

The October 7 attack killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and around 250 were taken hostage. Militants still hold around 130 hostages, and a quarter of them are believed to be dead.

The war has killed some 29,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Around 80% of Gaza’s population has been displaced, and a quarter face starvation.

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