Labour has criticised the remarks of rightwing Israeli ministers over the West Bank, saying they have been responsible for “unacceptable and offensive rhetoric about Palestinians”.
In a letter to the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, that puts policy daylight between the government and Labour on the crisis in the Middle East, David Lammy demanded to know what had been done to press the Israelis to curb the violence in the West Bank by settlers and government forces.
The shadow foreign secretary urged the UK government to tell Israel to reverse its plans to reduce funding to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority that administers the West Bank. He also called for settlers deemed to be inciting hatred or acting unlawfully to be banned from entry to the UK.
The Labour frontbench has faced sharp internal criticism for failing to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The letter does not change that stance but it does mark the end of the bipartisan unalloyed support for Israel that has been on display since the Hamas attacks on 7 October.
Describing those attacks as “appalling”, Lammy then cited the Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din’s claim that since 7 October “Israeli security forces and settlers have killed at least 144 Palestinians in the West Bank and more than 900 adults and children have been forcibly driven from their homes following extremist settler violence”. He said:
There has been a troubling rise in dangerous and extremist rhetoric among far-right politicians. There have also been attacks on Israelis, including a man shot and killed while driving on 2 November, as well as a number of planned terror attacks that have reportedly been foiled.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has ended his tour of the Middle East admitting that his efforts to secure a sustained humanitarian pause and greater constraint in Israel’s assault on Gaza was still “a work in progress”.
His comments on Monday followed a meeting with Hakan Fidan, the Turkish foreign minister, in Ankara. He will now head to a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Japan where he will brief colleagues on the US approach to the crisis.
Over four days of talks, which started in Jerusalem, diplomatic progress appears, if anything, to have gone into reverse. Blinken was unable to persuade the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to adopt a humanitarian pause, while talks on hostages stalled over the sequencing and length of the pause in hostilities required for their release.
In a further bombardment on Sunday night, Israel also imposed another temporary communication blackout in Gaza, despite US requests not to do so.
The number of aid trucks crossing the Egyptian border into Gaza at the Rafah crossing went down from 100 on Friday to closer to 30 in the following days.
Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, has criticised the UN chief, António Guterres, who earlier called for a humanitarian ceasefire and described Gaza as a “graveyard for children”.
“Shame on you,” Cohen posted to social media.
More than half a million people in northern Gaza face death by starvation as food supplies run “perilously” low, an international charity has warned.
In a statement on Monday, ActionAid said that a “near-total depletion” of food and water supplies is endangering the lives of civilians trapped in northern Gaza who have barely survived nearly a month of intense bombardment.
Riham Jafari, coordinator of advocacy and communication for ActionAid Palestine, said:
Cases of dehydration and malnutrition are increasing rapidly. Hospitals, which have remained over capacity for weeks on end, can offer no solace to those on the brink of starvation as medical supplies run low, fuel is scarce, and bombs are indiscriminately dropped across Gaza including on the footsteps of hospitals.
US President Joe Biden has today spoken with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a White House official said.
The two leaders discussed the potential for tactical pauses in strikes on Gaza during their phone call, according to national security spokesperson John Kirby.
Biden and Netanyahu also discussed the situation in the West Bank, he said.
Organisers of pro-Palestine marches that have brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of London have raised fresh concerns that a major protest planned for Saturday could be banned.
Ben Jamal, the director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, held a meeting with senior Metropolitan police officers on Monday to finalise details of the route – but there is growing anxiety that the home secretary, Suella Braverman, will intervene.
The protest is scheduled to start at 12.45pm on Saturday 11 November – Remembrance Day – at Hyde Park Corner and end at the US embassy in south-west London, more than a mile from the Cenotaph, where formal remembrance events will be held the next day.
The prime minister’s spokesperson earlier on Monday described the planned event as “provocative” and “disrespectful”.
The marchers are calling for a ceasefire in the war that broke out last month after Hamas killed 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostages. Thousands of civilians in Gaza have been killed in the Israeli military operation since.
The Met police could apply to the home secretary for a ban under section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 on the grounds that there is a risk of serious disorder.
“I would say now, there are absolutely no legitimate grounds for doing that,” Jamal said.
Some time ago, we indicated that on the 11th, we would not be going anywhere near [the Cenotaph] … We knew that would be … inappropriate.
We’ve not had that information [of an imminent ban] from the police. But what I’m aware of is the police are under immense pressure.
Dozens of foreign passport holders and some medical evacuees passed through the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt on Monday, Reuters reported, citing Egyptian security sources.
Evacuations resumed following a two-day suspension after an ambulance was hit by an Israeli strike in Gaza on Friday. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said 15 people were killed and 60 others wounded after Israeli forces targeted a convoy of ambulances transporting injured people. The Israeli military said, without showing evidence, that the vehicle was carrying Hamas militants.
About 80 dual nationals and 17 medical evacuees had left through Rafah by early Monday evening, according to Egyptian security sources.
The Gaza border authority had said earlier that only Egyptians and foreign citizens already on pre-approved lists issued since last Wednesday would be allowed through the crossing.
Egypt had been seeking guarantees for the safety of ambulances used for evacuations, including escorts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Egyptian security sources said.
The ICRC said it had escorted a four-ambulance convoy of patients from the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City to the Rafah border on Monday.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said it is carrying out airstrikes against sites belonging to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
The IDF statement came after it said it had identified about 30 launches from Lebanon towards northern Israel earlier on Monday.
The Israeli army said it was “responding with artillery fire toward the origin of the launches”.
UN chief António Guterres said the humanitarian aid that is coming through the Rafah border crossing is not nearly enough for the 2.7 million people in Gaza.
“The trickle of assistance does not meet the ocean of needs,” he said.
Just over 400 aid trucks have crossed into Gaza in the past two weeks, compared with 500 each day before the conflict, he said. Those trucks that have gone into Gaza have not included fuel, he added.
Without fuel, babies in incubators and patients on life support will die. Water cannot be pumped or purified. Raw sewage could soon start gushing on to the streets, further spreading disease.
The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, has warned that “no one is safe” in Gaza as he reiterated his urgent call for a humanitarian ceasefire.
The situation in Gaza is “more than a humanitarian crisis, it is a crisis of humanity”, Guterres said during a briefing at the UN’s headquarters on Monday.
Israeli ground operations and bombardments are hitting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities including shelters, he said. The protection of civilians “must be paramount”, he said.
I’m deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing. Let me be clear, no party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law.
He said Gaza was “becoming a graveyard for children” with hundreds of boys and girls reportedly killed or injured every day, he said.
More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades. More United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organisation.