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UK's Cameron says recognising Palestinian state could help end conflict

By AFP

January 30, 2024 09:38 PM


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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 recognise a Palestinian state.

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 violent assault on Israel.

Hamas militants triggered the deadliest ever Gaza war when it attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures, and taking 250 hostages.

Israel's subsequent relentless military offensive has killed at least 26,751 people in the Palestinian territory, most of them women and children, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza 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 Israel-Hamas war.

He said recognising 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 recognising 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' atrocities".

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 recognise 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.


AFP


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