A REFUGEE scheme for Palestinian people is not the “right response” at this stage of the conflict in the Middle East, a UK Government minister has claimed.

It comes despite calls from British charities for the provision of safe passage.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Victoria Atkins suggested the UK Government’s priority should be to “keep the pressure” on Hamas rather than open up a humanitarian route “at this point in time”.

The response came after 19 organisations devised a list of measures they said the Government could implement, including an emergency family reunion scheme and an emergency refugee protection visa for Israelis and Palestinians fleeing the violence.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak rejects SNP arguments Israel 'guilty of war crimes in Gaza'

Asked on LBC about whether she would support a Palestinian refugee scheme, Atkins said: “At this point in time, I don’t think that’s the right response, because we need to keep the pressure on this terrorist organisation to stop their hostilities, to release hostages and to come back to the diplomatic negotiating table.

“At this stage, I’m not sure that another humanitarian route is the answer. We want Palestinians to be able to live freely in their own area. We do not want these hostilities to continue by this terrorist organisation.”

The Refugee Council, which was among organisations to draw up the list of measures, had said that the UK must be ready to play a role in the refugee crisis.

Chief executive Enver Solomon said: “As the conflict worsens, the number of Palestinian men, women and children displaced and those facing grave danger will only increase.

“People who aren’t secure and safe in their homes need access to safety and the UK must be ready to play a role by implementing a package of emergency measures at short notice.”