British PM extends condolences to Israel for Carmel fires

Cameron says UK deployed two helicopters to help control fires; UK foreign secretary, Obama also send condolences and offer assistance.

By JONNY PAUL
December 4, 2010 01:40
2 minute read.
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron makes a

Cameron new PM. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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British Prime Minister David Cameron called his Israeli counterpart on Friday afternoon to extend condolences and sympathies for the lives lost in the ongoing forest fires in the Carmel.

“The Prime Minister extended his sincere condolences and great sympathies for the tragic loss of life in Israel in the ongoing forest fires. The UK had been glad to be able to help through the deployment of two UK helicopters based in Cyprus. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the British Government for the help; Britain had been amongst the first nations to provide assistance,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

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The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to raise the Middle East Peace Process.

“It was important that both sides took all the steps they could to keep peace talks alive. Israeli action on the settlement moratorium should form part of this. The leaders agreed to stay in close touch on these issues,” the spokesman said.

Foreign Secretary William Hague also expressed the condolences of the British Government to families affected by the tragedy.

“The British Government has been saddened by the Carmel Forest fire in northern Israel which has claimed so many lives,” Hague said on Friday. “On behalf of the whole Government I send my condolences to those who have lost family members.



“Our thoughts are with the thousands who have had to leave their homes due to the blaze. This tragedy is all the more sad as it comes as the Jewish community around the world celebrates Hanukka a time of hope and joy.

Hague said the UK will do whatever it can to help.

“The Prime Minister has instructed the Royal Air Force to deploy two helicopters from Cyprus, and these are now in Israel assisting with the international effort to put out the fires. The UK will continue to do whatever it can to help.”

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama offered his condolences to families of the victims of the fire.

"As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster," Obama said at a reception celebrating the second night of Hanukka. "A short while ago, our ambassador in Tel Aviv, Jim Cunningham, issued a disaster declaration, which has launched an effort across the US government to identify the firefighting assistance we have available and provide it to Israel as quickly as possible."

A 747 loaded with the fire retardant chemical needed to stop the raging forest fires left the United States for Israel Thursday night.

JPost.com staff contributed to this report.

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