The UK government remains “fully committed” to trying to bring about a meaningful ceasefire in Gaza, a foreign office minister has said.
James Cleverly said the international community is “pulling together” to restore permanent peace in the region and called on all parties to work to “reduce tensions”.
Cleverly also condemned “acts of terrorism by Hamas” in the Middle East and urged the Israeli government to “adhere to the principles of necessity and proportionality” when “defending its legitimate security interests”.
His comments came as shadow foreign office minister Wayne David urged the UK government to “do everything it can” to restart a meaningful peace process “as a matter of urgency”.
Speaking during an urgent question from Labour on Israel and Gaza in the Commons, Cleverly told MPs: “The UK unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and other locations within Israel.
“We strongly condemn these acts of terrorism by Hamas and other terrorist groups who must permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel. There is no justification for the targeting of civilians.
“Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence and to defend its citizens from attack.
“In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law and make every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
Cleverly continued: “We are aware of medical institutions, a number of schools and many homes in Gaza that have been destroyed or seriously damaged.”
He added: “We urge all parties to work together to reduce tensions in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.”
But Labour questioned what representations government ministers are making to their international counterparts on the matter.
David told the Commons: “We have heard that there have been discussions with the Egyptians and the Germans – the name of the United Kingdom government has not been mentioned.
“I would ask the minister if he would care to elaborate on what representations he has recently made to secure that objective of an immediate ceasefire?
“Can I also press the minister on what efforts his government is making to provide humanitarian support for the people of Gaza.
“And I would also urge the government to do everything it can to restart a meaningful peace process as a matter of urgency.”
Cleverly replied: “I can assure (David) that we remain fully committed to an immediate ceasefire and we are working to that end.”
He added: “The international community is pulling together, both in the region, in Europe and the United States, to try and bring about a meaningful ceasefire and work towards what can only be the right way of bringing a permanent peace to the region which is through negotiated, political means.”