Hammond rejects sanctions


Israel should not face economic or military sanctions following its campaign in Gaza, according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

But Mr Hammond accepted that the UK government had risked its reputation in refusing to take a stronger line against Operation Protective Edge.

Giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, he slapped down MPs' suggestions that Israel should face rebuke.

"What is needed is a proper analysis of all incidents that occurred. This will not be easy but has to happen," Mr Hammond said.

Labour MP Mark Hendrick said the government should criticise more strongly the number of Palestinian civilian deaths. He also called for sanctions on Israel similar to those imposed on Russia following the Malaysian Airlines crash in Ukraine.

Mr Hammond said: "Proportionality does not require us to look at the number of deaths on each side. You are taking the gross number of deaths and extrapolating from them. Just because the Iron Dome stopped rockets does not mean they were not unlawful.

"The government does not think sanctions would be effective."

Mr Hammond said reintroducing the Palestinian Authority to Gaza was a "crucial next step".

More than 50 backbench MPs took part in a special debate on foreign issues on Wednesday, with many raising the Gaza conflict. Mr Hammond said Israel's settlement expansion policy and appropriation of land near Bethlehem risked losing the sympathy of the international community.

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