October 20, 2023

Sunak meets Palestine’s Abbas, Egypt’s Sisi, insists on aid for Gaza

Sunak meets Palestine’s Abbas, Egypt’s Sisi, insists on aid for Gaza

20/10/2023. Cairo, Egypt. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

By Biodun Busari

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has met the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas in Egypt as part of a tour of the Middle East.

Sunak and Abbas jointly condemned Hamas’ attacks on Israel as the former prime minister “expressed his deep condolences” for civilian deaths in Gaza.

He also met Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, agreeing the need to avoid a “contagion of conflict”.

According to BBC, the PM called for the swift reopening of the Egypt-Gaza border, where some 20 aid trucks are poised to enter.

In a summary of the conversation between Sunak and Abbas, Downing Street said they “condemned Hamas’s terrorism and stressed that Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people”.

“The prime minister underscored his commitment to opening up humanitarian access to Gaza to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people who desperately need food, water and medicine,” the statement added.

Abbas is head of the Palestinian Authority, which has control over areas of the occupied West Bank, but not the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

In a post on X, Sunak reiterated his commitment to helping the region in reclaiming its peace while condemning terror against Israel and calling on his global counterparts to help stem the violence.

“I am in Egypt as part of wider efforts to prevent the spread of violence following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

“All leaders must work together to avoid any regional escalation and ensure humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Gaza.

“The UK stands ready to help,” Sunak said.

Meanwhile, in his earlier meeting with President El-Sisi, Downing Street said Sunak “praised Egypt’s efforts in attempting to secure the delivery of aid” through the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

The statement also noted the pair agreed “global leaders should do everything possible to avoid a contagion of conflict in the region” as well as make “every effort” to stop terrorism and protect civilians.

Speaking to reporters ahead of getting on a plane back to the UK, Sunak said getting humanitarian aid to those in Gaza is an “immediate priority” and the UK has been in discussions with Egypt on how to provide “practical assistance on the ground”.