British Government Welcomes New Government in Lebanon

The British Government has welcomed the new Government in Lebanon, which is a national unity government formed after nine months of debate. Saad al-Hariri will remain as Prime Minister, a role which he has held since December 2016.

Alistair Burt, the Minister of State for the Middle East, said in a statement:

“I congratulate President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri and welcome the announcement of the formation of Lebanon’s new government. This is an important moment for Lebanon.

The new government will have the increasingly important task of protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability, including through implementing the policy of disassociation from regional conflicts, and abiding by the provisions of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1559 and 1701. The United Kingdom will continue to support these goals, including strengthening the Lebanese Armed Forces in its role as Lebanon’s sole and legitimate defender.

This is a very important time for the Lebanese economy, and we look forward to rapid progress being made on the commitments made at the CEDRE Conference in Paris on 6 April last year. The UK-Lebanon Business and Investment forum in London on December 12 was an important moment in demonstrating Lebanon’s commitment to delivering key economic reforms, and now is the time for action.

The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting Lebanon, particularly in the fields of security, education and economic growth, as well as by providing support to its most vulnerable.”

Government Expresses Anger at Deaths on Israel/Gaza Border

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, has expressed concern following the death of over a dozen Palestinian protesters on the Israel/Gaza border. Israel has also rejected a request from the United Nations and the European Union for an inquiry to be held into the deaths.

Burt said in a statement:

“I am appalled by the deaths and injuries on the Israel/Gaza border on Friday (30 March). There is an urgent need to establish the facts, including why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in the violence. But the most important thing is to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened, with all sides committing to peaceful protest, restraint and international law.

This issue cannot just be managed over time. We need a political process to deliver a two-state solution; urgent action to improve the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including easing of restrictions by Israel and Egypt; and Palestinian reconciliation based on full adherence to the Quartet principles by Hamas”.

Alistair Burt Issues Statement on the Sentencing of Ahed Tamimi

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, has issued a statement on the sentencing of Ahed Tamimi who has been imprisoned for eight months. Tamimi is a Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier who has accepted the prison sentence as part of a plea deal.

Burt said:

“The conviction and sentencing of Ahed Tamimi is emblematic of how the unresolved conflict is blighting the lives of a new generation, who should be growing up together in peace, but continue to be divided.

The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law and obligations.

We have offered to help the Israeli authorities through expert-to-expert talks with UK officials. The offer still stands and we hope Israel will take us up on it. While we recognise that Israel has made some improvements, it needs to do much more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care”.

Government Issues Statement on Planned Israeli Settlement

Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, has said that he is concerned at the Israeli Government’s decision with regards to a planned settlement. The Israeli Cabinet agreed the housing project earlier this week in defiance of international concern.

In a statement he said:

“The UK strongly condemns the Israeli government’s decision to ‘legalise’ the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in the West Bank. The international community has repeatedly stated that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the physical viability of the two-state solution”.

Foreign Secretary Confirms Change of UK Special Envoy to Syria

The Foreign Office have confirmed that Martin Longden has been appointed as the UK’s Special Envoy to Syria, a role he will take up nearly immediately. Longden replaces Gareth Bayley and he will also continue in his current role as Head of Near East Department.

Longden said in a statement:

“I look forward to representing the UK to drive forward a holistic approach to Syria and the region, while maintaining strong links with the Syrian opposition.

The only lasting solution is a political transition that can protect the rights of all Syrians, unite the country and end the conflict. The UK will continue to play a key role in the international efforts to bring peace to all Syrians”.

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, said:

“The UK is working tirelessly to bring a peaceful solution to the Syria conflict. There can be no military solution to this tragedy, and neither Syria nor the region can be properly stabilised until we see a genuine transition to a new government in Damascus. Martin’s extensive diplomatic experience will ensure he is well prepared to continue our efforts towards a political solution in Syria”.

Government Says that it will bring Daesh Members to Justice

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, has signed a United Nations Security Council resolution which aims to bring Daesh members to justice. The resolution will allow investigations to take place in Iraq to gain evidence for the crimes committed by Daesh, with a new UN adviser being appointed to hold members of the group accountable.

Burt said in a statement:

“There can never be adequate recompense for those who were forced to endure the wanton brutality of Daesh, and the dead will not be brought back, but this Resolution means that the international community is united in our belief that there should, at least, be accountability for those who perpetrated such wicked acts.

The United Nations will now help to gather and preserve evidence of Daesh’s crimes in Iraq and I can announce that Britain will provide £1 million to establish the UN investigative team that will lead these efforts – and I would respectfully encourage other countries to contribute”.