Image: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)
He expressed the deep condolences of the British people for the terrible loss of life that has occurred in Israel. He underscored the UK’s firm belief in Israel’s right to self-defence in accordance with international humanitarian law, as they work to end the threat of Hamas and secure the freedom of hundreds of Israeli hostages.
The Prime Minister thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for his support for the British nationals who have been taken by Hamas and both leaders agreed to work closely together to secure their freedom.
The Prime Minister welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement yesterday on opening up aid access to Gaza. He emphasised the importance of establishing sustained access to get more vital food, water, medicine and fuel into Gaza and to enable British nationals trapped there to leave.
Both leaders underscored the need to prevent any regional escalation in the conflict and the importance of restoring peace and stability to the region.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, today, after their meeting:
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
“Prime Minister Sunak, Rishi, I want to thank you for your solidarity, your clear unwavering support from the minute this war began. I think the fact that you came to Israel tells us a lot.
I said to President Biden yesterday, if there is one thing more heartwarming than standing with Israel it’s standing in Israel. And the fact that you came here to do that is a very strong statement of support which we deeply appreciate it.
Chancellor Scholz, who also visited here called Hamas the new Nazis. He was right. You fought the Nazis 80 years ago resolutely and the entire world supported your action. President Biden called Hamas worse than ISIS. He’s right too.
Hamas are the new Nazis, they’re the new ISIS, and we have to fight them together just as the civilized world united to fight the Nazis and united to fight Hamas, it must together now stand with Israel as we fight and defeat Hamas.
This is not merely our battle. It’s the battle of the entire civilized world. It’s the battle of Israel, it’s the battle of the moderate Arab countries, it’s the battle of Western civilization, the battle of the free world, the battle for the future.
We have here two forces. One is an axis of evil, led by Iran through Hezbollah, Hamas and others that want to bring back the Middle East to the Middle Ages, to an age of bondage and war and slavery and annihilation.
The other force are the forces of progress and humanity that want to push the Middle East into a world of peace and prosperity. We were on the cusp of expanding that peace and destroying that move was one of the reasons why this action was taken. We have to resist it and we have to win.
Above all, we have to win.
We have to release the hostages. You have nationals. I understand, I know you do, that they have our children, babies, women, elderly, Holocaust survivors and your nationals. And we have to work together in every way possible, and we’re doing that, to get them back.
I appreciate the fact that you also sent some military forces into the region. We discussed practical cooperation on many fronts and I value that very much.
Eighty years ago, eighty years ago, Prime Minister, the civilized world stood with you in your darkest hour. This is our darkest hour. It’s the world’s darkest hour. We need to stand together and we will win. And this is why I support and value your support. And the fact that you’re here, we must win together.
That means it’s going to be a long war and we’ll need your continuous support, continuous support. There will be ups and downs. There will be difficulties. The people here are united, they’re prepared to take the necessary action. I’ve never seen the people of Israel as united, more united as they are now. But we need that unity across the board and continuous support as we prosecute and win this just war against the modern barbarians, the worst monsters on the planet. Thank you, Rishi, for coming here.”
British Prime Minister Sunak:
“Prime Minister, thank you for your warm words and for welcoming me to Israel. I’m just sorry to be here in such terrible circumstances.
In the last two weeks, this country has gone through something that no country, no people, should have to endure, least of all Israel which has lived through some of the most awful scenes, the specter of violence and terrorism every day of its existence.
I want to share the deep condolences of the British people and stress that we absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, to go after Hamas, to take back hostages, deter further incursions and to strengthen your security for the long-term.
Now, I know that you are taking every precaution to harming civilians in direct contrast to the terrorists of Hamas which seek to put civilians in harm’s way.
But I also want to thank you for the support your government has given to the families of British nationals caught up in this horror, including your efforts to release the hostages, secure their release. And I know that we will continue to cooperate, particularly with regard to British nationals that are involved.
We have seen the scenes over the past day that have shocked all of us, particularly at the hospital. And we mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith, every nationality, who have been killed. And we also recognize that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too.
That is why I welcome your decision yesterday that you took to ensure that routes into Gaza will be open for humanitarian aid to enter. I’m glad that you made that decision. We will support it. We are increasing our aid to the region and we will look to get more support to people as quickly as we can.
The last thing for me to close on is this. You described this as Israel’s darkest hour. I am proud to stand here with you in Israel’s darkest hour. As your friend, we will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people and we also want you to win.”