Lord Cameron denies suggesting Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza

The Foreign Secretary had expressed worries about Israel’s actions when facing questions from MPs.

David Lynch
Sunday 14 January 2024 11:35 GMT
For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

Lord Cameron has denied saying Israel has broken international law in Gaza, as he insisted the UK is “incredibly firm” with its ally.

The Foreign Secretary also said it is “nonsense” to suggest that Israel intends to commit genocide, as it faces a challenge from South Africa at the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its actions in Gaza.

While facing a grilling from a committee of MPs on Tuesday, Lord Cameron suggested he was “worried” that Israel may have acted in breach of international law in the Middle East.

He added that he “of course” has concerns about the crisis in Gaza but that it is not his job to make a “legal adjudication”.

Pressed on Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips that he had suggested Israel might be guilty of war crimes, the Foreign Secretary replied: “I didn’t say that.”

Asked if he thinks Israel has a case to answer in the ICJ, Lord Cameron said: “No, I absolutely don’t. I think the South African action is wrong, I think it is unhelpful, I think it shouldn’t be happening.

“Now, of course I am not a lawyer, but they are talking here about genocide, they are taking this case on the basis on genocide, and to prove that you have got to prove that there was intent.

“I take the view that Israel is acting in self-defence after the appalling attack on October 7.

“But even if you take a different view to my view, to look at Israel, a democracy, a country with the rule of law, a country with armed forces that are committed to obeying the rule of law, to say that that country, that leadership, that armed forces, that they have intent to commit genocide, I think that is nonsense, I think that is wrong.”

Lord Cameron was later asked by the BBC whether the UK and its allies need to be firmer with Israel about its actions in Gaza.

“I think we have been incredibly firm,” the Foreign Secretary told Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.

He added: “We are a friend and ally of Israel but we do not hold back.”

The UK Government has said it supports Israel’s right to defend itself following Hamas’s October 7 attacks but has urged it to show restraint and act in accordance with international rules.

It is now approaching 100 days since Hamas’s attacks, with more than 130 hostages still held in Gaza.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC there should be an “immediate truce” between Israel and Hamas in order to work towards a “sustainable ceasefire”.

He suggested “the release of hostages” would also be a step towards building a long-term end to the fighting.

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