UK’s Starmer urges ‘caution’ on Israel-Lebanon border in call with Netanyahu

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British Prime Minister Keir Starmer on Sunday called on all sides to exercise “caution” on the border between Israel and Lebanon, in his first telephone conversation since he was elected with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Starmer told his counterpart the “situation on the northern border of Israel was very concerning, and it was crucial all parties acted with caution,” a spokesperson for his 10 Downing Street office said.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement on Sunday fired another 20 rockets at northern Israel, leaving one person injured there, the latest cross-border attacks launched in solidarity with Gaza’s Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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Hezbollah has traded near daily fire with the Israeli army across Lebanon’s southern border since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel last year, triggering the war in Gaza.

Discussing the conflict, the prime minister reiterated his condolences for the mass loss of life during the October 7 attacks, the spokesperson said.

“He then set out the clear and urgent need for a ceasefire, the return of hostages and an immediate increase in the volume of humanitarian aid reaching civilians.”

In his conversation with Netanyahu, Starmer added that it was also “important to ensure the long-term conditions for a two-state solution were in place, including ensuring the Palestinian Authority had the financial means to operate effectively.”

Efforts towards a truce are continuing with US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators hoping to halt the worst-ever Gaza war, which has caused mass civilian casualties and devastated the coastal territory.

‘Undeniable right of Palestinians’

The spokesperson said the prime minister also spoke by phone to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Starmer told Abbas that his “longstanding policy on recognition to contribute to a peace process had not changed, and it was the undeniable right of Palestinians.”

The October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli tallies.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.

In response, Israel’s military offensive has killed at least 38,153 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

With AFP

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