Foreign secretary David Cameron says the British government does not support an assault on Rafah in the current situation, but it would not be 'wise' to stop arms sales to Israel.

A planned ground invasion of the besieged city in Gaza, which houses more than one million people displaced by the war in the region, has been met with a backlash from the international community.

Despite intensive negotiations there has been no deal on a ceasefire, with Israel rejecting an Egyptian proposal accepted by Hamas which would have brought a six week break in fighting and seen prisoners exchanged between the two sides.

US president Joe Biden has warned that his country will not supply weapons for the offensive, with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu responding "if Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone".

The British government will not adopt a similar stance, however, with Mr Cameron telling Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips such a move would not be "wise".

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He said: "I think America and the UK are in a totally different situation.

“The United States is a massive, bulk, state supplier of weapons to Israel, including 1,000lb bombs and all the rest of it.

“The UK provides less than 1% of Israel’s weapons and it’s not a state supplier. We have a licensing system and those licences can be closed if it’s judged there’s a serious risk of a serious international human rights violation.”

The Tory peer said he was pushed to declare an immediate arms embargo a few months ago, “and the very next thing that happened just a few days later, was a massive Iranian attack on Israel”.

“So I don’t think it would have been a wise path, and I still don’t think it would be a wise path,” he said, adding it would “strengthen Hamas”.

Lord Cameron also said Israel must “do better on” allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, and that the UK government does not support the offensive on Rafah as things stand.

The Herald: Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron appearing on the BBC 1 current affairs programme, Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron appearing on the BBC 1 current affairs programme, Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg. (Image: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire)

He said: "For there to be a major offensive in Rafah, there would have to be an absolutely clear plan about how you save lives, how you move people out the way, how you make sure they’re fed, you make sure that they have medicine and shelter and everything,

"We have seen no such plan… so we don’t support an offensive in that way.”

Appearing on the same programme, the shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth called for an immediate pause to arms sales.

He said: "We should be pausing arms sales in order to stop any arms that would be used in that Rafah offensive.”

“We do not want this Rafah offensive to go ahead, it would be completely catastrophic.

“The Americans have said they are not going to hand over arms which could be used in a Rafah offensive. I am saying that we should adopt a similar position.

“We should not sell British-made weapons or components that should be used in this Rafah offensive.

"A full-scale offensive into Rafah would be catastrophic beyond description.

"I think there are over a million people and 600,000 children (involved). We have been calling for an immediate ceasefire for some time. I strongly believe we need a ceasefire.

“We need international aid into the region but I do not want to see an offensive go into Rafah.”

Lord Cameron also appeared on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, where he was asked about the suspension of funding to UNRWA, the UN agency which provides most of the aid in Gaza.

Israel has accused members of the organisation of being part of terrorist groups and taking part in the October 7 attacks, a claim for which it has provided no evidence according to an independent review.

That was enough for some nations to restore funding, but Lord Cameron said he was being "more demanding" and that the UK is waiting for the findings of a second report.