Lord Goldsmith forced to delete a tweet expressing support for Israel

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A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish following an Israeli airstrike on targets in the southern Gaza strip - AFP Contributor#AFP 
A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish following an Israeli airstrike on targets in the southern Gaza strip - AFP Contributor#AFP

A foreign office minister has been forced to delete a tweet expressing support for Israel in its conflict with Palestine after Boris Johnson urged the countries to “step back from the brink” of war.

Lord Goldsmith, an environment and foreign minister, shared a message from the Israel Defence Forces about the country’s response to rocket attacks from Hamas.

The peer tweeted: “No country on Earth would be expected to tolerate these incessant attacks on innocent civilians – by an organisation committed to their total eradication. Why should Israel?”

His tweet came after the Prime Minister sent his own, more neutral, message. “I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint,” he said.

“The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties, and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions.”

On Thursday night Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, added: "We are concerned with any civilian loss of life. On all sides we are appealing for calm, an end to the Hamas rocket attacks, and a de-escalation of the violence on all sides."

The apparent U-turn by Lord Goldsmith came as it emerged that the vast majority of British tourists who have booked holidays to Israel will be able to get vouchers if they choose to cancel over the current wave of violence.

Holiday firms reported a surge of bookings to the country after it was announced last week it would be on the "green" travel list from next week.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic separately confirmed their customers would be able to move the flights.

Rory Boland, of Which? Travel, said: “You will probably be able to rebook. The vast majority of people will be able to rely on those policies and vouchers.”

A British Airways spokesperson said: “Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their flights or request a voucher for future use as part of our Book with Confidence policy.” Vouchers are valid until April 2023.