In a briefing to the Cabinet, President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed deep concern over the recent attacks in Israel and its implications on Sri Lankans and Israelis residing in both countries.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the need for immediate action to ensure the safety of Sri Lankans working in Israel. He directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to locate and ensure the well-being of these individuals, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

Additionally, he called for assistance in facilitating the return of Israelis, including tourists and employees, from Sri Lanka to Israel and urged the police to provide necessary security measures for Israelis within Sri Lanka.

While reaffirming Sri Lanka’s longstanding support for the two-state concept of Israel and Palestine, President Wickremesinghe condemned the recent Hamas attack on Israel, which resulted in the loss of numerous civilian lives. He stressed that despite past criticisms of Israel’s actions, such attacks could not be justified, it added.

President Wickremesinghe called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in line with the African Union proposal, emphasizing the broader consequences of the crisis on global fuel prices. He noted that the ongoing conflict would likely lead to a prolonged period of high fuel prices, adversely affecting developing economies, including Sri Lanka.

The President’s statement underscores Sri Lanka’s commitment to peace and stability in the region and its concern for the safety and well-being of its citizens and foreign residents amidst the current crisis, according to the PMD.

Statement to the Cabinet by President Wickremesinghe:

“There are many Sri Lankans working in Israel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must locate them and ensure their safety. There are a number of Israelis in Sri Lanka – some are tourists and some are employed. We must help them to travel back to Israel. I have also asked the Police to look after the Israelis here.

“Sri Lanka has always supported two states concept of Israel and Palestine. We are steadfast in our support. At times we have condemned Israel’s actions. Nevertheless, all this does not justify Hamas attack on Israel killing a large number of civilians. The Government of Sri Lanka condemns this unprecedented attack.

“The fighting and violence must be brought to an end immediately. Sri Lanka is in agreement with the African Union proposal. There is another impact of this crisis. The petrol prices were expected to rise to USD 100. per barrel and thereafter recede from end February. This crisis will only create a further shortage of fuel ensuring that fuel prices will remain high for a longer time. This is a big blow to the developing economies.”