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David Cameron Expresses Hopes Over Temporary Truce During Visit to Israel

David Cameron has met Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, during a visit to Israel, expressing hope that the planned temporary truce with Hamas would be an “opportunity to crucially get hostages out and get aid into Gaza”.

The ceasefire is due to begin on Friday morning from 7am local time, with aid “going in as soon as possible”, according to Qatari officials. The first set of civilians held captive by Hamas are expected to be freed at about 4pm local time on Friday, including 13 women and children.

The Israeli prime minister told the new UK foreign secretary that the precondition for peace in the Middle East was the eradication of what Netanyahu called the “genocidal terrorist cult” Hamas. His remarks gave the impression that Netanyahu is not currently interested in anything but a military solution to the future of Israel’s security.

Cameron’s visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, came on another dramatic day surrounding the release of hostages, and Palestinian political prisoners.

The UK foreign secretary was determined to visit Israel a little more than a week into his new job to show his solidarity with the country over the Hamas terrorist attack.

He visited the Be’eri kibbutz, scene of some of the worst violence during the Hamas assault of 7 October, during which 1,200 people were killed and 240 hostages taken, saying: “There is never any excuse for this sort of hostage-taking.

“All the hostages should be released, but I hope that everyone who is responsible and behind this agreement can make it happen, to bring relief to those families, including, of course, there are British nationals who have been taken hostage.”

More than 130 people were killed in the kibbutz, which is only 8 miles (13km) from the Gaza border.

Netanyahu insisted Israel would press on with its plans to destroy Hamas, saying: “We’ll continue with our war aims, namely to eradicate Hamas, because Hamas has already promised that they will do this again and again and again. They’re a genocidal terrorist cult. There’s no hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and the Arab states, if we don’t eradicate this murderous movement that threatens the future of all of us.”

It is understood Cameron discussed the impact of the conflict on civilians and the need to take all possible measures to minimise civilian casualties, and urged the Israelis to take action to end settler violence in the West Bank. The UK foreign secretary highlighted the need to use the Kerem Shalom border crossing to scale up scanning and inspections to get more trucks in to Gaza.

In London, John Casson, Cameron’s former chief foreign policy adviser in Downing Street, criticised Netanyahu’s strategy, saying it was teaching hatred of Israel among Palestinians. He also called for a change to the ageing leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

In his main critique, he argued it was right to say “we stand with Israelis and say ‘never again’ to facing the terrorist horror of the last month – that is not the same as to say we endorse and enable what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his partners are saying and doing because the two things are at odds.

“The current approach is not making the Israelis safe and secure for the long term but creating a traumatised generation of Palestinians and teaching them that Israel is their enemy and it is undermining the prospects of a two-state solution and deliberately dismantling it.”

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, also visited Israel on Thursday, telling Netanyahu and Herzog that the number of dead Palestinians was “truly unbearable”, and that the response to Hamas’s terrorist attacks last month cannot include “the deaths of innocent civilians, including thousands of children”.

Source: The Guardian