British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held meetings with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his diplomatic tour of the Middle East in Cairo. The discussions centered on the importance of allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza and the avoidance of civilian casualties in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
During these talks, Sunak emphasized the need to prevent a broader regional conflict and minimize the loss of civilian lives. He also mentioned progress in ensuring access to humanitarian aid for those in need.
Sunak’s visit followed U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, which saw Arab leaders cancel a meeting with him due to an explosion at a Gaza Strip hospital, with both sides blaming each other. However, Israel promised to allow limited aid shipments to Gaza through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing, provided the aid is monitored to prevent it from reaching Hamas.
“When this crisis unfolded, one thing we have prioritized consistently is getting the Rafah crossing open,” Sunak said. He also discussed the UK’s practical assistance in ensuring the sustainability of aid through the crossing with President al-Sisi.
In addition to his visit to Egypt, Sunak visited Jerusalem to show support for Israel and to work on securing the release of hostages held by Hamas. He then met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, encouraging him to use Saudi leadership to support regional stability.
During his talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, Sunak expressed “deep condolences” for the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, including the destruction of the hospital. The leaders agreed on the necessity of protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure while minimizing the loss of innocent lives. The UK is assessing the incident but has not attributed responsibility for the hospital blast.