ISRAEL “abides by the rule of law”, a Cabinet minister has insisted despite refusing to publish legal advice the UK Government has received on the matter.

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, insisted advice from the Tory government's lawyers on the situation would remain confidential but stressed the UK’s support for Israel was not “unconditional”.

The Government has come under increased pressure to suspend arms sales to Israel and to publish its legal advice following an attack which killed aid workers including three Britons.

The UK’s arms exports regime would prevent the supply of weapons to Israel if there is a “clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

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The Israeli military has withdrawn its forces from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis but could still mount an offensive in Rafah – despite the UK and US leading international pleas for restraint due to the number of displaced people taking refuge there.

After six months of conflict following the October 7 massacre by Hamas, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled to Rafah and any large-scale assault would be likely to lead to a high death toll.

But the Government has refused to bow to pressure from opposition parties and some Conservatives to publish its legal advice on Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stride defended arms exports to Israel, despite the International Court of Justice saying there is a "plausible" case that it is committing genocide in Gaza.

He said the legal advice would not be published due to “long-standing convention”.

He told Sky News: “Israel is a very important democratic country that abides by the rule of law, that we should be supporting, particularly in their hour of need and what has happened. However, that is not an unconditional support.

“We expect Israel not to do the kinds of things that happened with the aid workers and we have made it very clear that we are appalled by what happened there.

“We do expect, and the Americans as well and others, that aid will be going into Gaza.”

The situation in Gaza has seen Foreign Secretary David Cameron taking a more strident approach to criticism of Israel than some of his colleagues.

Stride echoed Cameron’s position that support for Israel is not unconditional.

But Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden on Sunday suggested Israel was being held to an “incredibly high standard” compared with other nations.

Dowden insisted the UK has not given the Israel Defence Forces “carte blanche” and has held robust conversations with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government following the killings of British aid workers John Chapman, 57, James “Jim” Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47 on April 1.

On whether the UK should continue to supply arms, Dowden told Sky News: “The manner in which some people are seizing on this issue and trying to hold Israel to incredibly high standards …

"Of course it is right that we hold Israel to high standards, but I just think there is a bit of relish from some people about the way in which they are pushing this case against Israel.”