Cameron urges Israel to issue more visas for UN workers to distribute Gaza aid

Israel needs to issue more visas to UN workers to ensure aid can be distributed within Gaza, Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said.

Speaking in Parliament, the Tory Cabinet minister described the sharing of humanitarian assistance within the besieged enclave as “one of the trickiest pieces of the jigsaw”.

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton also urged Israel to open one of its ports to allow emergency supplies arriving by sea to get through to the war-torn territory.

The five-month-old war that was triggered by Hamas’ October 7 massacre in southern Israel has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and driven some 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people from their homes.

The UN says a quarter of the population is starving.

The militant attack that sparked the conflict killed around 1,200 people and saw some 250 taken hostage.

Responding to a question at Westminster on aid to Gaza, the Conservative frontbencher said: “We have been collaborating with Jordan on humanitarian airdrops and are now working with partners to operationalise a maritime aid corridor from Cyprus.

“However, this cannot substitute delivery by land, which remains the best way to get aid in at the scale needed.

“Israel must open more land routes, including in the north, for longer and with fewer screening requirements.”

He added: “I have been clear. We need an immediate humanitarian pause to increase aid into Gaza and get the hostages out. Israel must remove restrictions on aid and restore electricity, water and telecommunications.”

Lord Cameron told peers: “If Israel really wanted to help, they could open Ashdod port which is in Israel, which is a fully functioning port that could really maximise the delivery of aid from Cyprus straight into Israel and therefore into Gaza.”

On the distribution of aid in Gaza, he said: “This is one of the trickiest pieces of the jigsaw. One of the things Israel needs to do is give out more visas to UN workers, who are capable of distributing the aid when it arrives into Gaza.”

He added: “Getting more aid into Gaza requires the work of more than just Israel taking the relevant steps, but Israel is the country that could, I think, make the greatest difference because some of the blockages and the screening problems and all the rest of it are their responsibility.”

He highlighted the example of 18 trucks sent from Jordan being held for 18 days at a crossing and said: “That seems to me the sort of the thing we need to act on faster to get that aid into Gaza.”

Lord Cameron also backed the call to remove Hamas from power in the territory, arguing this was needed to secure a lasting peace.

He said: “We completely agree that we will not have a two-state solution if the people responsible for October 7 are still running any part of Gaza.”

Later, responding to a separate question on the BBC World Service, the Foreign Secretary said the broadcaster should call Hamas a terrorist group.

He said: “Obviously it’s right that the BBC World Service is operationally and editorially independent.

“Now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have views on what they do and what they say.

“And, for instance, on the question of whether Hamas are a terrorist group, I couldn’t be more clear: they are a terrorist group and I believe the BBC should say so.

“So, editorial independence doesn’t mean that politicians or anyone else isn’t allowed to have a view – we are, and those views should be taken into account.”