LONDON, May 1 (KUNA) -- The British Government Thursday urged Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and abide by international humanitarian law.
Opening a House of Commons debate on the Middle East ahead of tomorrow's major international meeting on the peace process in London, Britains Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells warned that Israeli action was having a "grave impact" on life in the territory.
In a wide-ranging speech, Howells also warned Iran that it was facing "increasing isolation and confrontation" with the West over its nuclear programme and support for insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the situation in Israel and Palestine, the Minister said "Recent violence, especially in Gaza, is a cause of great concern".
"Israel has real security concerns, but Israeli action must be in line with international humanitarian law".
"Closures of border crossings in Gaza are having a grave impact on daily life".
"We call on both sides to support the emergence of a stable, viable Palestinian state", he added.
Turning to Iran, Howells said its nuclear programme "presents the greatest immediate challenge to non-proliferation".
Tehran, he said, had "hidden the most sensitive aspects" of its programme for 20 years and had also supported extremists in Iraq and the Taliban were using Iranian-supplied weapons.
"Iran's leaders have a choice between the path of increasing isolation and confrontation with the international community or a transformed relationship with the world, with all of the political, economic and technological benefits that will bring. I urge them to make the right choice, he went on.
On Iraq, Howells said there had been "significant progress" since 2003 but accepted there were still challenges ahead, including holding provincial elections later this year.
The Minister also said he was "deeply concerned" by the political crisis in Lebanon and pledged to support efforts to improve security in the country. (end) he.bz.
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