David Cameron ‘worried’ Israel may have broken international law – with Britons still held in Gaza

Politics

Israel “might have taken action” in breach of international law in Gaza, the foreign secretary has said during a tense exchange with MPs on the conflict in the Middle East.

Lord Cameron also confirmed two British nationals are still being held hostage by Hamas, as he made his first appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee since his controversial return to cabinet.

Politics Live: Lord David Cameron ‘worried’ Israel may have broken international law in Gaza

The former prime minister was given a peerage in order to take the government post and because he is not an MP, and therefore does not speak in the House of Commons, the committee appearance is the first chance MPs have had to scrutinise his new role.

Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP, pressed him on whether he has received advice from government lawyers saying Israel is in any way in breach of international law.

The foreign secretary said he “cannot recall every single bit of paper that has been put in front of me” and it was not his job to make a “legal adjudication”.

Ms Kearns, appearing frustrated, cited previous instances in which he declared that foreign regimes have breached international law.

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Lord Cameron eventually said he was “worried” Israel might have done so.

He said: “Am I worried that Israel has taken action that might be in breach of international law, because this particular premises has been bombed or whatever?

“Yes, of course I’m worried about that.”

It comes as Israel prepares to defend itself at The International Court of Justice in The Hague this week, after South Africa accused it of genocide in its war against Hamas.

Israel-Gaza latest: Hamas ally Hezbollah retaliates against killing of senior commander

The conflict was sparked after Hamas’s 7 October attacks against Israel, which saw some 1,200 people killed and around 240 taken hostage.

During a ceasefire in November 105 hostages were released.

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‘Two Britons still being held hostage in Gaza’

However, Lord Cameron told the committee that two British nationals remain hostage.

“There are two British nationals who remain as hostages. I don’t want to make any further comment on them,” he said.

Asked if it is known whether the two people are still alive, the minister said: “I just don’t want to say any more. We don’t have any information to share with you.”

Libya intervention criticism ‘bunk’

Later in the hearing, Lord Cameron also defended his decision to intervene in Libya during his time as prime minister, calling criticism of the action “bunk”.

During his time in charge, an international coalition led by Britain and France launched a campaign of air and missile strikes against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in March that year after the regime threatened to attack the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

A Foreign Affairs Committee report in 2016 described Britain’s military intervention in Libya as based on “erroneous assumptions” and an “incomplete understanding” of the rebellion against the former dictator.

It also heavily criticised Lord Cameron for turning a limited intervention intended to protect civilians into an “opportunist policy of regime change” based on inadequate intelligence.

The former Tory leader rejected the report’s findings, calling it “bunk”.

He told MPs: “The idea that, as prime minister, you would launch some action in Libya, on the basis of what… you thought it would be a good idea for no reason. We were genuinely concerned there was going to be a slaughter.

“It was right to intervene, it was right to stop Gaddafi killing his own people. It was right to give that country the chance of a brighter future. They didn’t want to have that help in reconstruction.”

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