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UK will consider recognising Palestinian state to help end conflict – Cameron

Lord David Cameron is visiting Oman (Dan Kitwood/PA)
Lord David Cameron is visiting Oman (Dan Kitwood/PA)

Britain will look at recognising a Palestinian state under diplomatic efforts to end the conflict with Israel, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has said.

He told a reception in London on Monday evening that the move would help to make a two-state solution – currently stalled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed to it – an “irreversible” process.

Lord Cameron discussed the need to give the “Palestinian people a political horizon” under efforts to end the Israeli-Hamas war as he addressed a reception for Arab ambassadors in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Tory peer will pledge that Britain will “do everything” it can to prevent the conflict from “spilling over borders” during a visit to the Middle East.

Last week during a meeting in Jerusalem the Foreign Secretary pushed Mr Netanyahu over a two-state solution to bring about peace for both Israeli and Palestinian people.

Mr Netanyahu has rebuffed efforts from allies, including the US, to win his for support the proposal, saying it would “endanger the state of Israel” as he criticised the “attempt to coerce us”.

But Lord Cameron spelled out how the UK and allies could add to pressure by considering recognising a Palestinian state at the United Nations.

“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.”

Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said it was a “significant” moment.

“It is the first time a UK Foreign Secretary considers recognising the State of Palestine, bilaterally and in the UN, as a contribution to a peaceful solution rather than an outcome,” the diplomat wrote on social media.

“A UK recognition is both a Palestinian right and a British moral, political, legal, and historical responsibility.

“If implemented, the Cameron Declaration would remove Israel’s veto power over Palestinian statehood, would boost efforts toward a two state outcome, and would begin correcting the historic injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people by colonial Britain’s Balfour declaration.”

Lord Cameron will this week make his fourth visit to the Middle East since being appointed Foreign Secretary in November as he presses for a de-escalation of tensions.

Starting in Oman, the senior Conservative peer is expected to call for stability amid Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and an immediate pause in the conflict in Gaza as he looks to work diplomatically to stop the Israel-Hamas war from escalating into a wider conflict.

An attack by Iran-backed militia in Jordan over the weekend that killed three US troops and left dozens injured has stoked fresh fears of a western confrontation with Tehran.

The UK, the US and other allies have looked to police the Red Sea after the Houthis, another Iran-backed rebel group, based in Yemen, began targeting commercial shipping on the vital global trade route in recent months.

The US and the UK launched a second round of joint strikes against the rebels but it appears to have done little to deter the Houthi missiles.

A British-linked oil tanker went up in flames after a strike claimed by the Yemen-based group on Friday, before a further attack on HMS Diamond, a Royal Navy destroyer stationed in the Red Sea, was repelled.

Speaking before his return to the Middle East, Lord Cameron said: “The Houthis continue to attack ships in the Red Sea, risking lives, delaying vital aid getting to the Yemeni people and disrupting global trade.

Red Sea shipping attacks
HMS Diamond fired its Sea Viper missile to shoot down a drone over the Red Sea (MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

“And we cannot ignore the risk that the conflict in Gaza spreads, spilling over borders into other countries in the region.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that does not happen – escalation and instability is in nobody’s interests.”