Alistair Burt 311.
British citizens should not to take part in the upcoming Gaza flotilla and those
looking to provide humanitarian aid to Gazans should do so through existing
legal mechanisms, the UK’s visiting Middle East envoy said on
“We do not advise UK nationals to go to Gaza. On account of the
uncertain situation there, we do not believe that humanitarian supplies should
be delivered by an attempt to land goods through a sea journey", Alistair Burt,
Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, told reporters at British
Ambassador Matthew Gould’s residence in Ramat Gan.
“There are recognized
ways to get humanitarian aid into Gaza which is supported by the Israeli
authorities and the UN, and anyone looking to make a humanitarian contribution
should do just that,” Burt said.
He added “I am not keen on the flotilla
traveling. As I made clear, I’m sure there is a humanitarian intention behind
many of those who take part in it, but there are ways to contribute in
humanitarian ways, and this has a clear political aim of challenging the Israeli
authorities, and people are entitled to make political gestures, but the UK is
also entitled to say whether they consider such gestures to be wise or not, and
we don’t consider the flotilla gesture as a wise decision.”
about how the UK would react to the expected UN General Assembly vote on
Palestinian statehood in September, Burt expressed uncertainty, but added that
he hopes the international community focuses on the peace process in the
“The short answer is we don’t know, we don’t know what
resolution will come forward we don’t know if any will in September.
I’m keen on is that we spend the next few months not chasing around looking for
people either to sign a resolution or not sign one, but look towards the things
that are necessary to get the negotiated settlement [between Israelis and
Palestinians] that we all know is vital.”
Burt was also asked about why
Britain chose to take part in the international coalition against the Gaddafi
regime in Libya but has avoided such actions in Syria. Burt described the myriad
ways that the international community’s position on the two situations are
different, and expressed disappointment at the lack of a unified international
voice of condemnation against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
“The UK has taken very similar actions [in Syria], firstly in
sanctions in the EU and secondly by trying to get a condemning resolution at the
UN, and it’s very clear that we do not have the support for that. I think it is
a disgrace that the international community cannot issue a condemnation of Syria
though the UN, which I think it should be able to do,” he said.
arrived in Israel on Tuesday morning as part of a three-day trip in which he will
meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Shortly after arriving, he
visited the Gaza Strip, where he met with UN officials and observed the
situation on the ground.
When asked whether Gaza appeared to him to be in
the throes of a humanitarian crisis, he said, “It’s a different sort of crisis,”
but added that “the pressures on the area are huge therefore the responsibility
of Israel and their friends around the world to help ease the situation we think
is very strong.”
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