British foreign minister David Cameron met his counterparts from Arab and Islamic countries in London on Wednesday to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict after the two sides agreed to ceasefire in Gaza for at least four days.
“We discussed how to use this step forward to think about the future and how we can build a peaceful future which provides security for Israel but also peace and stability for the Palestinian people,” Cameron said in a statement.
Foreign Ministers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Indonesia and Nigeria, as well as the Secretary General of the League of Arab States and Ambassador of Qatar attended the meeting, Britain said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Arab foreign ministers welcomed an agreement for a temporary truce between Israel and Gaza militant group Hamas but said it should be extended and become a first step toward a full cessation of hostilities.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan told a media briefing in London that the agreement, which includes hostage releases and stepped-up aid into the devastated Gaza Strip, should also ultimately lead to a resumption of talks for a two-state solution.
Under Wednesday’s temporary ceasefire deal, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the humanitarian aid should be sustained and expanded, and it should not later become contingent on further hostage releases.
“Whatever humanitarian access now increases as a result of this hostage deal must remain in place and must be built upon,” he said.
“There must at no point be a reduction in this access based on progress for further release of hostages … Punishing the civilian population of Gaza for the holding of those hostages is absolutely not acceptable.”
The conflict began on October 7 when Hamas gunmen and other militants burst across the border into Israel, killing 1,200 civilians and Israeli soldiers, and taking about 240 hostages.
Israel responded with a heavy bombardment and then invasion of the Gaza Strip, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians, including at least 5,600 children, according to authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The Arab foreign ministers are leading a so-called contact group of mostly Muslim countries which are lobbying Israel’s major allies and the UN Security Council to bring about an end to the Gaza war and move towards a permanent solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The delegation is visiting the capitals of UN Security Council permanent members, arriving in London after meetings in Beijing and Moscow, and with further trips to Paris and Washington planned.