British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed the UK’s concern over ‘the loss of Palestinian lives’ as her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu visited No 10 on Wednesday. But does her condemnation go far enough?
May had previously only commented once in relation to the recent killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the Great March of Return. The unrest came to a head on May 14, when 60 civilians died in one day, bringing the total number of lives claimed to 119, according to Reuters.
During a press conference with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the day after the killings, May responded to a question about the events by saying they were “tragic and extremely concerning.” She called for an ‘independent’ investigation, albeit one led by Israel. The PM fell short of attributing blame to Israel, and merely asked them to “show restraint.”
"Such violence is destructive to peace efforts," she stated.
“There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation, including why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in events.
“We urge Israel to show restraint,” she added.
The UK then abstained in a UN Human Rights Council vote to launch an investigation into the killings, although they – along with the US, which rejected the motion – failed to stop the inquiry from being initiated.
Neither of May’s two strongest European allies, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron, who echoed her response to Gaza, used their recent meetings with Netanyahu to condemn what the UN special rapporteur in the Palestinian territory described as a “war crime.”