1. This morning, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from her post as a junior minister in the Foreign Office because she “can no longer support government policy on Gaza”.
2. But just what precisely is government policy on Gaza? We certainly weren’t sure. So we called the Foreign Office just before 10am to ask.
3. We were told that we’d be sent a statement on the issue but we still didn’t have one 40 minutes later. So we called again. Here’s the conversation:
Foreign Office: “Good morning, news desk. May I help you?
BuzzFeed: “Good morning, this is Siraj Datoo calling from BuzzFeed. I called just before 10 o’clock and no one’s got back to me. I’m trying to figure out what the government’s policy on Gaza is.
FO: “Yeah, um, I’ve, um, um, yeah. I’m going to be sending you an email with a link to our, um, foreign secretary statement that he put out on 3 August. Basically in the first couple of paragraphs it gives our, um, sort of government policy on Gaza on there.”
4. A few minutes later, we received an email with a link to this page, which recounts phone calls conducted by foreign secretary Philip Hammond with the Israeli foreign and justice ministers. In it, Hammond says:
I spoke to Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni this morning to discuss how to resolve the crisis in Gaza. I reiterated the UK’s position on the need for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, for every effort to be made to prevent further civilian casualties. Hamas must also cease the firing of rockets at Israeli communities and endangering the lives of the Israeli population.
I welcome indications that Israeli forces may begin to withdraw from Gaza within the next few days. It’s vital that we find a way forward that is enduring and any solution would need to provide genuine stability, and not simply lead to a repeat of the cycle of violence.
In order to be sustainable, any ceasefire agreement needs to show a clear path to real change in Gaza for the future if we are to avoid future conflict and improve life for ordinary Gazans as well as address Israel’s legitimate security needs.
5. Now Downing Street says this is its policy:
Our policy always been consistently clear – the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we’ve urged both sides to agree to ceasefire.