Foreign Secretary answers questions relating to Gaza flotilla

Foreign Secretary William Hague answers questions on the BBC News Channel on the UK's response to the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon William Hague

William Hague: Yes thank you. Well the British Government deeply deplores the loss of life that has occurred in the interception of the Gaza flotilla and, of course, our first thoughts are with the families of those who may have been injured or killed. We are in urgent touch with the Israeli Government both in Israel and in London seeking more information about UK nationals who have been involved and, of course, Israel must provide consular access to those individuals as that information becomes available.

It is very important that Israel acts with restraint and in line with international obligations in any case such as this and, of course, we will all want to know more about whether more could have been done to minimise the risks or to reduce the number of deaths and injuries. That is why we agree with our EU partners and other international partners that there must be a full and impartial and independent investigation or inquiry in to these events.

It is also a reminder that we need to find a durable resolution of the Gaza conflict and it is important, in our view, in the long standing view of the United Kingdom, that Israel allows unfettered access for aid to Gaza because of a serious humanitarian (interruption in broadcast) on another young generation of Palestinians and it’s important that they do that in line with United Nations Security Council resolution eighteen sixty and that they do that as soon as possible.

Unidentified Male Reporter: Do you think the Israelis have over reacted to the situation?

WH: Well as I say we want to see a full and independent and impartial investigation or inquiry and I stress there that it’s very important they act with restraint, that they act, that there are constraints on them, that they act in line with their international obligations. And so on any initial look of it, look at it you would say that such a conflict at sea was an overreaction but I think we’ll have to also see that investigation.

Unidentified Male Reporter: Have you had any response from the Israeli Government to the representations that you’ve made to them?

WH: Yes we are in touch with them about consular access. There, certainly we have been given access to one UK national who was injured in what happened, we don’t know yet for certain about any deaths. We know that there may have been people, UK nationals, who have been detained and we are seeking consular access to them. So at the moment that, the discussion we’re having with the Israelis most urgently are about access to British nationals.

Unidentified Male Reporter: Do you think the blockade of Gaza should be lifted?

WH: As I’ve just explained I think that it’s very important that UN Security Council resolution eighteen sixty is implemented, that the crossings are open, that there is unfettered access for aid to Gaza and that aid and commercial goods and, indeed, individuals are able to go to and from Gaza.

Unidentified Male Reporter: Do you think though there’s any real international pressure that can be brought to bear on Israel in view of the events of the past twenty four hours?

WH: Well there will be enormous international pressure on Israel and it’s important, as I say, whatever the findings, whatever we say around the world about this that we keep our eyes on an eventual and durable solution to what’s happening in Gaza.

That, of course, requires Israel to take the actions that I’ve just described, it also requires an end to rocket fire on Israel from within Gaza because that is very important as well. So I hope that pressure will be maintained…

Unidentified Male Reporter: So there has to be …
WH:** … certainly it will be maintained …

Unidentified Male Reporter: … there has to be a response from that side as well, from the other side as well?

WH: … well that goes without saying if there is to be any durable solution. But I think whatever that solution a key part of it is that Israel allows access for humanitarian aid in to Gaza.

Unidentified Male Reporter: And do you have any more details about the UK citizens who were involved, you say you know of one person of who was injured, do you have any other, other details there?

WH: I don’t have any other details at the moment but our embassy are working very hard on it, our consular staff are very busy as you can imagine at the moment, so they are trying to get more details as rapidly as possible.

Unidentified Male Reporter: Foreign Secretary, William Hague thanks very much.

Published 31 May 2010