The events we have seen unfolding in Israel are truly horrific. I join the UK Government in utterly condemning the appalling attacks perpetrated by Hamas, standing resolutely with Israel in defending itself against terror and highlighting the need to act in accordance with international humanitarian law.

I want to see an end to the terrible suffering in Gaza as soon as possible and for the fighting to stop now. I support the UK Government’s position, which is calling for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life. Indeed, the Government made a Written Statement to Parliament on 23 February setting out this position.

There are several vital elements for a lasting peace, including the release of all hostages; the formation of a new Palestinian Government for the West Bank and Gaza, accompanied by an international support package; removing Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks against Israel; Hamas no longer being in charge of Gaza; and a political horizon which provides a credible and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution.

I respect the role and independence of the ICJ. However, I agree with the UK Government that South Africa’s case at the ICJ is not helpful in achieving the goal of a sustainable ceasefire. I share the Government’s view that Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot be described as genocide, and believed South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative.

The Court’s call for the immediate release of hostages and the need to get more aid into Gaza is a position the UK has long advocated.  

On UNRWA, I am appalled by allegations that any agency staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism. I support the UK's decision to pause any future funding of UNRWA whilst these concerning allegations are reviewed. The United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all temporarily paused funding too.

The Government is pressing the UN Office of Internal Oversight to produce a rapid interim report. The UK wants UNRWA to give detailed undertakings about changes in personnel, policy and precedents to ensure this can never happen again. The UK is working with allies to try to bring this situation to a rapid conclusion – not least because UNRWA have a vital role to play in providing aid and services in Gaza.

I want to make clear that the UK remains committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza who desperately need it. The Government is getting on with aid delivery, funding multiple implementing partners including other UN agencies and international and UK NGOs. This support is helping people in Gaza get food, water, shelter and medicines.

The commitment to trebling aid to Gaza still stands and the UK is providing £60 million in humanitarian assistance to support partners including the British Red Cross, UNICEF, the UN World Food Programme and Egyptian Red Crescent Society to respond to critical food, fuel, water, health, shelter and security needs in Gaza.

Indeed, the UK will continue to support the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver a new humanitarian land corridor from Jordan into Gaza. 750 tonnes of life-saving food aid arrived in the first delivery and 315 tonnes in the second delivery.

On 21 February four tonnes of life-saving aid – funded and supported by the UK Government – were air-dropped for the Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in Northern Gaza by the Jordanian Air Force.

Ministers are doing all that they can to get more aid in and open more crossings.

Finally, the UK continues to call for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to be respected and civilians to be protected. The Government has previously assessed that Israel is committed and capable of complying with IHL, and regularly reviews its assessment.