British PM tells Netanyahu Israeli raid was "unacceptable"

1st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron described Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as "unacceptable" and urged the Jewish state to "respond constructively" to criticism of its actions.

In a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Monday, Cameron said Britain "deplored the heavy loss of life" after at least nine people died when Israeli commandos stormed an aid ship.

Cameron insisted Britain remained committed to Israel's security, but urged Netanyahu to make a constructive response to "legitimate" international critcism.

"He reiterated the UK's strong commitment to Israel's security, but urged Israel to respond constructively to legitimate criticism of its actions, and to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of this unacceptable situation," a spokesman for Cameron said.

"The PM also stressed the importance of urgently lifting the blockade of Gaza, and allowing full access for humanitarian aid."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for a "full and impartial and independent investigation or inquiry" into Monday's events off the coast of Gaza.

"It is very important that Israel acts with restraint and in line with international obligations in any case such as this," Hague said.

"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 into these events."

The aid ship was carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and thousands of tonnes of supplies.

Hague said the storming of the ship highlighted the need for an end to the "unacceptable and counter-productive" restrictions on aid entering the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu, speaking in Ottawa before cancelling a planned visit to Washington to return to Israel, expressed "regret" over the loss of life but said Israeli troops had acted to "defend their lives."

© 2010 AFP

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