Israel-Hamas war: UK government calls for 'pause' in conflict, but rejects calls for full ceasefire
The UK Government has called for a "pause" in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but calls for a full ceasefire in the situation have been rejected.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the temporary break in the violence between the two parties could be beneficial. Sunak said that "specific pauses" would allow for humanitarian aid to be provided to those in need in Gaza, as well as allowing for the release of British nationals and other hostages held captive by Hamas fighters.
However, he rejected calls for an outright ceasefire, telling reporters that Israel still had "the right to defend itself under international law" following the surprise Hamas attack on 7 October. A spokesperson for Downing Street added that a ceasefire would "only serve to benefit Hamas".
Around 80 MPs called on the UK Government to back the calls for a ceasefire. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said that a ground attack by Israel on Gaza would fall under the category of the country's right to defend itself, so long as the ground offensive targeted Hamas and not civilians.
Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said: “We understand that Israel was attacked in a very brutal way by Hamas terrorists… to then ask Israel not to respond, in other words what you describe as a ceasefire, I think is untenable. They have a perfect right to go after those terrorists. But it’s the international humanitarian situation that a pause could really assist with.”
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer comes under pressure on his own position on the matter, after being urged by Labour MPs to back the ceasefire call. He echoed Sunak's words, calling for "humanitarian pauses" but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.
The Labour leader's response to the conflict in Gaza has prompted anger from party members, with some councillors resigning over Starmer's stance. There are also rumours of unease with Labour's stance on the matter amongst some members of the parliamentary party, with fears there could be possible frontbench resignations over the matter.