UK's Cameron says recognizing Palestinian state could help end war

AFP , Tuesday 30 Jan 2024

The British government insisted Tuesday that its stance on the Middle East peace process remained unchanged after Foreign Secretary David Cameron suggested the UK could soon recognize a Palestinian state.

David Cameron
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. AFP


Cameron's comments were welcomed by the Palestinian ambassador in London but sparked a backlash from Conservative MPs who said early recognition would reward Hamas for its offensive on Israel.

Hamas launched a surprise offensive on southern Israel on 7 October, resulting in the deaths of 1,140 people, according to Israeli officials, and taking 250 captives.

Since then, Israel's subsequent relentless military offensive has killed at least 26,751 people, 70% of them women and children, with another 65,636 people wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Cameron told a reception for Arab ambassadors at the UK parliament on Monday of the need to give the "Palestinian people a political horizon", amid diplomatic efforts to end the war in Gaza.

He said recognizing a Palestinian state would help make the two-state solution, currently rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an "irreversible process".

"We should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like, what it would comprise, how it would work," he said.

"As that happens, we, with allies, will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations.

"This could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible."

The Palestinians' ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, called Cameron's words a "significant" moment.

But Cameron's fellow member of the Tory party, Theresa Villiers, said bringing forward the recognition of a Palestinian state would "reward Hamas".

The UK has long supported a two-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians could live side by side in separate countries as per UN resolutions.

Downing Street said the UK's position had not changed.

"We've always been clear that we will recognize a Palestinian state at a time it best serves the cause of peace, and we are committed to the two-state solution," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman told reporters.

Cameron, who was prime minister from 2010 to 2016, is visiting the Middle East this week, his fourth visit to the region since being appointed foreign secretary in November.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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