LONDON – British Middle East Minister Hugh Robertson, speaking about the killings of three Israeli teenagers, called for all parties to “avoid action that could escalate the situation further” and told Israel that “all security operations must be handled with due care, restraint and a proportionate use of force.”
He participated in an unusual tribute to the three murdered teens, joining MPs of all parties in an hour’s session of parliamentary prime time to discuss the killings.
Supporters of Israel were prominent in voicing their disgust and condemnation of the brutal slayings, while several pro-Palestinian MPs echoed those sentiments, though coupled their comments by questioning the Middle East minister on why the deaths of Palestinians killed during the past few weeks of IDF searches had not, too, been condemned.
Robertson echoed Prime Minister David Cameron’s earlier statement on “this appalling act of terror.” In sending Britain’s condolences to the family, he added that “no reason, belief or cause could justify the abduction and killing of innocent civilians.”
Offering assistance to the Israeli government, he told MPs that the urgent priority was to hold those responsible to account under the rule of law and added that Britain encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue to work together to find the perpetrators.
Questioned on whether Israel had the right and duty to take what action it deemed necessary, the minister added that the British government understood “absolutely” that it was an extraordinarily difficult time in the region, and that “tensions are running high.”
Having been in the country since the abductions, he said he was all too aware of “how this event had consumed Israeli society,” but added “it is crucial that any actions that the Israeli government takes is precisely targeted to find the perpetrators,” to avoid any escalation.
As for suggestions that the PA technocratic government should be disregarded because of the involvement of Hamas, Robertson was adamant that if any of its participants were “an active member of Hamas,” “that would be an absolute end of this government’s dealing with them.” But he added it was not the case as they were “fully signed up to the Quartet’s principles.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led the Jewish Community’s tributes to the three slain teens. Having expressed his shock and sadness he said “the Jewish people and many others are mourning the loss of three precious souls, who were taken in the prime of their lives,” and prayed for “the right of innocent men, women and children to live their lives in peace.”