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UK: Tory politicians shun government Eid reception over Israel support

Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is reportedly among those boycotting the event
Sayeeda Warsi delivers a speech during the first day of the Conservative conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, England, 3 October 2010 (AFP)

Conservative politicians, business and charity leaders are planning to boycott a Downing Street Eid reception on Monday over government support for Israel, the BBC has reported.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged invitees to “put aside political differences” and attend the annual celebration, hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

According to the BBC report, sources in Downing Street have privately expressed concern at the number of people who might boycott the reception because of their opposition to Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza.

Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is reportedly among the politicians boycotting the event, along with at least two other Tory MPs.

Baroness Warsi, who was Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet minister, resigned from the cabinet over Britain’s support for an earlier Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014.

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A No 10 spokesperson said the UK government “share[s] the deep concern that many British Muslims have over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and our priority has always been to avoid further escalation in the region".

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed more than 2.2 million Palestinians to the brink of humanitarian disaste nd famine.

At least 33,700 people have been killed and over 76,000 wounded in Israeli attacks, which have also caused widespread destruction to the health system, infrastructure and housing units.  

Asif Ansari, a leading businessman and charity fundraiser, told the BBC that the UK’s continued arms exports to Israel following the International Court of Justice’s ruling which found a “plausible risk” it was committing genocide in Gaza and the killing of seven international aid workers by Israeli air strikes, “was an absolute red line”.

Sunak has come under mounting pressure following the attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy, with three Conservative backbenchers and one former minister calling on the UK to halt arms sales to Israel.

Earlier this month, over 600 prominent lawyers, academics and former judges, including former Supreme Court President Lady Hale and two other former justices of the court, have signed a letter warning the UK government that it is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel.

On 29 March, over 50 MPs and members of the House of Lords signed a letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron, urging the government to reinstate funding for Unrwa "without delay".

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