Press release

PM statement at press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel: 19 October 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's statement at joint press remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister, thank you for your warm words and for welcoming me to Israel. I am just sorry to be here in such terrible circumstances. 

In the last two weeks, this country has gone through something that no country, no people, should have to endure. 

Least of all Israel, which has lived through some of the most awful scenes, the spectre of violence and terrorism every day of its existence.

I want to share the deep condolences of the British people, and stress that we absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, to go after Hamas, to take back hostages, deter further incursions and to strengthen your security for the long-term. 

Now I know that you are taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians, in direct contrast to the terrorists of Hamas, which seek to put civilians in harm’s way. 

But I also want to thank you for the support that your government has given to the families of British nationals caught up in this horror, including your efforts to secure the release of hostages, and I know that we will continue to cooperate, particularly with regard to the British nationals that are involved. 

Can I also say that we have seen scenes over the past day that have shocked all of us, particularly at the hospital, and we mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith and every nationality who have been killed.

We also recognise that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too, and that is why I welcome your decision yesterday that you took to ensure that routes into Gaza will be opened for humanitarian aid to enter. 

I am glad that you made that decision; we will support it, we are increasing our aid to the region, and we will look to get more support to people as quickly as we can. 

The last thing for me to close on is this: you describe this as Israel’s darkest hour, well then it’s for me to say that I am proud to stand here with you in Israel’s darkest hour as your friend, who will stand with you in solidarity, who will stand with your people, and we also want you to win.

Published 19 October 2023