Senior UK officials discuss Gaza crisis on sidelines of COP28 in Dubai

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, Downing Street announced.

He thanked the emir for Qatar’s important role in facilitating the humanitarian pause in Gaza, which saw the release of dozens of hostages and the vital passage of further aid.

The leaders deeply regretted the collapse of the pause and reiterated the importance of ongoing efforts to secure the release of all hostages and ensure humanitarian assistance reaches those in need in Gaza. 

In the long term, the prime minister said “we must work toward a two-state solution which guarantees the security and prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians.” 

He reiterated that Hamas had demonstrated that it could not be a partner for peace and could have no future in Gaza.

Sunak also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, where he reassured him that the UK continues to press Israel on the need to adhere to international humanitarian law and contain settler violence in the West Bank. 

“The prime minister recognized the vital role Jordan has played in addressing the crisis in Gaza and the generosity they have shown in providing significant humanitarian support to Palestinian civilians, including the provision of military field hospitals,” his office said in a separate statement.

Sunak reiterated the UK’s commitment to working toward a lasting resolution to the conflict which delivers dignity, peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. 

The leaders also confirmed the continued importance of close UK-Jordan cooperation, including on trade, defense and clean technology.

During talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Sunak reiterated the UK’s support for the humanitarian response in Gaza, with planeloads of UK aid, including warehouse facilities and forklift trucks, sent to Egypt to preposition on the border with Gaza. 

He thanked El-Sisi for Egypt’s continued efforts to get much-needed aid into Gaza and secure the release of hostages, as well as their support for the evacuation of British nationals from Gaza.

He said the UK stands ready to provide further support, recognizing that there must be no forcible displacement from Gaza and that aid must be able to reach people across the Gaza Strip. 

Sunak and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog also discussed the conflict with Hamas and the end of the humanitarian pause in Gaza earlier on Friday.

The premier “once again emphasised the need to take all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties and significantly increase the flow of aid to Gaza,” Downing Street said.

Meanwhile, King Charles III, who is also attending COP28, met with Sheikh Tamim on the sidelines of the annual summit to discuss “the friendship and cooperation relations between the two countries and peoples, as well as the means to enhance them,” the Qatar News Agency reported.

The meeting also dealt with exchanging views on the most prominent issues on the summit’s agenda, in addition to a number of developments of joint interest.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron held talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman to discuss the latest developments in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as ways to reduce escalation and bring about a cease-fire.

During the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed stressed that his country, along with its mediation partners, is committed to continuing efforts to return to calm, stressing that the continued bombing of the Gaza Strip after the end of the truce complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged enclave.

He expressed Qatar’s firm position in condemning all forms of targeting civilians, and that killing innocent people, especially women and children, and practicing the policy of collective punishment are unacceptable, under any circumstance.

He also stressed the necessity of opening humanitarian corridors to ensure that relief and aid reach the Palestinian brothers stranded under bombardment. 

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