UK PM hopeful Liz Truss slammed for 'standing with Israel' amid brutal Gaza assault
UK foreign secretary and possible future prime minister Liz Truss has said “the UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself” in a statement released yesterday.
Truss, who is in pole position to win the Tory leadership race next month, said “we condemn terrorist groups firing at civilians”, without making reference to escalatory violence by Israel in recent days.
The Israeli air force bombardments have killed at least 32 people in recent days, including five-year-old girl Alaa Qaddum.
The Foreign Secretary's statement following air strikes in Gaza 👇 pic.twitter.com/eNqu1NYb21— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) August 6, 2022
The foreign secretary’s vocal support for Israel came after she wrote an open letter to UK lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel (CFoI), keen to garner their support for her leadership bid.
In her letter on Friday Truss hinted at moving the UK’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, promising to “review the location”.
She wrote on Friday that after “many” conversations with her “good friend” Yair Lapid on the topic she would “review a move to ensure we are operating on the strongest footing with Israel.”
Truss also vowed to “put a stop” to local UK councils introducing boycott, divestment and sanctions policies in solidarity with Palestinians.
The conservative friends of Israel is a lobby group with over 2,000 members that organises pro-Israel events in Westminster, takes Tory MPs on trips to Israel and campaigns for the conservative party in marginal seats.
Her rhetoric over the last few days has drawn swift condemnation from parliamentarians and supporters of Palestine within UK politics and beyond.
“Shamefully blinkered statement from Secretary of State Liz Truss. Not a word of criticism of Israeli air strikes on residential buildings in Gaza which have already killed 15 Palestinians” said former parliamentarian Richard Burden.
“Britain wants to take over from the US in becoming Israel's unconditional supporter?” asked Youssef Cherif, director of Columbia Global Center in Tunis.
“This statement on Gaza from Liz Truss is contemptuous, grotesque and ethically barren. Anybody working in the FCDO should be ashamed and appalled of this total contempt for Palestinian life” said Joseph Willitts from the Council for Arab British Understanding.
The Labour party in the UK is yet to release an official statement regarding this week’s escalations in Gaza.
Gaza's health ministry said at least 32 were killed and scores injured in the air strikes on Friday night and Saturday morning. Among those killed was a five-year-old girl.
"Israel isn't interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either," Lapid said in a nationally televised address.