AN East Lancashire MP has called on the government to act to reduce violence and tension in Israel and Palestine.

Burnley Tory backbencher Antony Higginbotham tackled Middle East minister James Cleverly on the conflict in the House of Commons.

This week has seen a dramatic escalation triggering street violence in Israel between Jews and Israeli Arabs, rockets fired at Israel by Hamas from the Gaza strip and air strikes on targets there by Israeli defence forces.

The fighting erupted on Monday after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem over Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face eviction by Jewish settlers, and clashes at a holy site revered by Muslims and Jews.

Mr Higginbotham spoke in Parliament as hundreds attended a Pro-Palestine rally in Blackburn Town Centre.

He told Mr Cleverly: "In the last few days, I have been contacted by hundreds of constituents who are concerned by the proposed evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, the activities outside the al-Aqsa mosque and the events that we have seen in the last 36 hours.

"Will you reassure them, me and all MPs that the government will use the full power of their diplomatic network to de-escalate the immediate issue and then bring both sides back to peace talks, because that is the only way that we can prevent events like this happening again?"

Mr Cleverly replied: "The al-Aqsa mosque is one of the most holy sites in Islam, and Jerusalem has the privilege of being the home of a number of the holiest sites in the Abrahamic religions.

"Therefore, the policing of Jerusalem needs at all times to be sensitive, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.

"I assure you and others that the UK government will work tirelessly to bring about a conclusion to this, so that we no longer have to see the distressing images that we have seen in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, and that we no longer have to hear about fatalities."

The annual meetings of Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle Councils will both debate motions condemning the proposed Sheikh Jarrah evictions and the action of Israeli forces in bombing targets in Gaza on Thursday next week.