UK minister meets victims of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel visit


Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood has met members of the Israeli government during a visit to the country.

Mr Ellwood travelled to the rocket-hit south of Israel to meet communities affected by the Gaza conflict during his two-day stay which ended today.

He had earlier travelled to the Gaza Strip to meet Palestinian Authority representatives.

Mr Ellwood said Britain was determined to stand by Israel’s right to self-defence, but reiterated opposition to settlement building.

He said the announcement of new homes in the Givat Hamatos settlement “undermines trust between the parties and has serious implications for the prospects of a two-state solution”.

During meetings with Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, he discussed the peace process, relations with Britain, and the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.

On a trip to Ashkelon Mr Ellwood saw an Iron Dome anti-missile battery and spoke to those affected by Hamas rocket attacks.

The Foreign Office said Mr Ellwood had told Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau of Britain’s work with strictly Orthodox communities.

The minister laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and met Israeli technology entrepreneurs who have benefited from collaborations with British companies.

He ended the trip with a visit to see shoppers preparing for Succot at a busy market.

Mr Ellwood said: “I was impressed to see the strength of the UK-Israel partnership first hand. It was profoundly moving to stand in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem.

“It reinforced to me the importance of the work the UK conducts in Holocaust education. The UK is determined to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial wherever it exists.”

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