Israel has ‘legitimate right to self defence’, Middle East minister says

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Israel has ‘legitimate right to self defence’, Middle East minister says

Lord Ahmad also confirmed to the Conservative peer Lord Leigh in the House of Lords that the UK government would, through Egypt, urge Hamas not to become involved in current conflict with Islamic Jihad in Gaza

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Middle East minister Lord Ahmad 
(Parliament TV)
Middle East minister Lord Ahmad (Parliament TV)

The UK minister for the middle east has defended Israel’s “legitimate right to self defence” after responding to questions in the House of Lords amid the escalating conflict with the Islamic Jihad organisation in Gaza.

Lord Tariq Ahmad also said he welcomed signals that Hamas did not appear “involved in this current conflict” and pledged to use the UK government’s “usual channels to ensure the current conflict is not escalated.”

Conservative peer Lord Leigh noted the fact that 100 rockets had been fired towards Israel from Gaza before Israel launched its “assasination” of the three Islamic Jihad commanders, and that one of those killed had been helping build a rocket launching facility in Jenin.

Leigh added it should be recognised that “despite pressure from Iran” Hamas “did not get involved in that fighting nor the fighting last August.”

He also noted that through Egyptian negotiators Israel had urged Hamas “not to enter this conflict” and asked if the UK government would also urge Hamas “through Egypt” not to become involved in the current conflict.

“We have seen and welcomed the fact that Hamas have not become involved in this current conflict,” confirmed Lord Ahmad.

A question tabled by the Green Party’s Baroness Bennett on the number of Palestinian casualties in the occupied territories this year, had sparked Wednesday’s debate.

“All countries, including Israel have a legitimate right to self-defence,” said Ahmed.

But he added :”Where there is evidence of excessive force we advocate for swift and transparent investigations”, before stressing that along with foreign secretary James Cleverly, “want to see a de-escalation and a willingness for dialogue from all sides.”

Baroness Bennett then asked the minister whether he could confirm that “no items covered by British arms export licences” were being used by the IDF or Israeli citizens. She then made reference to the most recent strikes on Islamic Jihad, which had killed three militants, but also four women and four children and a doctor.

Ahmad said:”The loss of all life, particularly those of children, is extremely distressing for all concerned. Irrespective of whether it is an Israeli or Palestinian life it is one too many.”

He said the UK was “diligent” over arms exports and operates some of the most robust controls.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Palmer of Childs Hill also raised concert about torture of LGBT citizens by Palestinian leaders from Hamas and the PA, outlined by a recent report.

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