Foreign Office minister: ‘Simply calling for a Gaza ceasefire will not make it happen’

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Foreign Office minister: ‘Simply calling for a Gaza ceasefire will not make it happen’

Foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell needed to repeatedly remind MPs in the Commons that calling for a ceasefire in Gaza would not actually bring one about.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell
Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell

Government foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell has repeatedly reminded MPs that “simply calling for a ceasefire” in Gaza between Israel and Hamas “will not make it happen.”

Delivering his latest statement to the Commons on the situation in Gaza, the impressive Tory minister spoke in favour of firstly securing a pause in the fighting which would “secure the sustainable ceasefire that can hold for the longer term without a return to the fighting.”

But he launched an angry condemnation of the SNP’s stance on Gaza warned their spokesperson Brendan O’Hara about his use of language as he accused Israel of “collective punishment” of the Palestinians.

O’Hara also called for the UK to “stop selling weapons to Israel” and added this “shameful” period was one in which “history would judge” the government “harshly.”

Mitchell responded saying:”In all his remarks her might remember that source of all this was attacks of October 7th. It was the pogrom committed against the Israeli people – the worst act of killing  ofJewish people since the end of the Second World War.

“There needs to be some balance in what he says, and also his language is not helpful.”

Palestinians at the site where two Israeli hostages were rescued overnight in an Israeli operation in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Feb. 12, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Later at least two SNP MPs raised doubts about evidence provided by Israel suggesting UNRWA workers had colluded with Hamas.

One Scots representative suggested the evidence may indeed be “propaganda.”

Outlining the government position Mitchell said a sustainable ceasefire would require “the release of all hostages, the removal of Hamas, it’s capacity to launch attacks against Israel” and that the terror group was “no longer in charge in Gaza.”

He added there was a need for a formation of a new Palestinian government for the West Bank and for Gaza, an international support package and the path towards an eventual two-state solution.

But tellingly, Mitchell reminded MPs that the UK was not “in control of events” in the Middle East and could only “offer advice.”

Responding for Labour, David Lammy urged the government to push for to ensure Israel “abides” with the International Court of Justice ruling tha tall  humanitarian aid reaches Gaza.

He said Israel must not prevent the renewal of international humanitarian visas, as was claimed last week.

Lammy said he welcomed news that a “truce” may be near to being agreed, and said he would “hear the minister” when he said “simply calling for a ceasefire will make one happen.”

The shadow foreign secretary called for the government to “speak together”  with  Labour and agree on a shared position. Lammy said he “strongly suspects” both Mitchell and the foreign secretary David Cameron agreed with his party’s position.

Mitchell responded saying both the government and Labour positions were “incredibly close” to one another.

Labour’s Richard Burgon later called for the suspension of arms sales to Israel.

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