UK’s Cameron says support for Israel ‘not unconditional’

Foreign secretary says the UK expects Israel to ‘abide by international humanitarian law’ as war enters seventh month.

Rania Abu Anza (C) the mother of twin babies Naeem and Wissam, killed in an overnight Israeli air strike, mourns their death ahead of their burial in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 3, 2024, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues.
Rania Abu Anza, centre, the mother of twin babies Naeem and Wissam, killed in an overnight Israeli air strike, mourns their death ahead of their burial in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip [File: Mohammed Abed/AFP]

Britain’s support for Israel depends on it abiding by international humanitarian law, Foreign Secretary David Cameron says in a newspaper column.

The remarks by the former prime minister came days after an Israeli air strike killed seven aid workers, including three Britons, in Gaza.

“Our backing is not unconditional,” Cameron wrote in The Sunday Times on Sunday. “We expect such a proud and successful democracy to abide by international humanitarian law, even when challenged.”

The British government has been a staunch ally of Israel since the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7.

However, Cameron has hardened his language in recent months over the dire humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

Earlier on Sunday, he warned that the “prospect of a famine is real” in Gaza, as a Royal Navy ship headed to the Mediterranean to help set up a maritime aid corridor.

Cameron said Britain was working with the United States, Cyprus and others to set up a “new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to get aid in as quickly and securely as possible”.

‘Shocked by bloodshed’

Meanwhile, in a statement on Sunday to mark six months since the initial Hamas attack, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak repeated his call for the Palestinian group to release Israeli captives and for an immediate pause in fighting.

“We continue to stand by Israel’s right to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists … but the whole of the UK is shocked by the bloodshed, and appalled by the killing of brave British heroes who were bringing food to those in need,” he said.

Sunak is facing growing political pressure to stop selling weapons to Israel after seven aid workers, including three British nationals, were killed by an Israeli air attack on Gaza.

Several of Israel’s key allies also expressed outrage at the deaths and called for an independent investigation into the attack.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he spoke to Netanyahu and conveyed that his country was “outraged” by the death of the Australian aid worker, Zomi Frankcom.

Britain’s government is also under pressure to publish its latest legal advice about Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza, which would potentially affect British arms exports.

Last week three former Supreme Court justices joined more than 600 members of the British legal profession in calling for the government to halt arms sales to Israel, saying it could make Britain complicit in genocide in Gaza.

Britain supplied 42 million pounds ($53m) of arms to Israel in 2022. In December, the government decided these exports should continue but would be kept under review.

Cameron said on March 8 that a new judgement on that was under way and due in the “coming days”.

A majority of people in Britain back a ban on weapon sales to Israel, according to a poll published in The Guardian. Fifty-six percent of people are in favour of a ban compared with 17 percent opposed, the poll found.

Source: News Agencies