David Cameron has underlined the UK’s commitment to seeking a two-state solution in the Middle East as he congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on victory in the Israeli elections.
Mr Netanyahu stunned the international community by declaring on the eve of being returned to power that he would never allow a separate Palestinian state to exist while he was in office – a position from he has subsequently tried to row back.
The provocative statement – along with a claim that Arabs were “voting in droves”, for which he has apologised – have seriously strained relations between the Israeli leader and allies such as the US.
Mr Cameron, who had earlier told MPs a one-state solution would be “disastrous for the Jewish people”, spoke with Mr Netanyahu by telephone yesterday.
“He congratulated him on winning the recent Israeli elections, and looked forward to working with the new government when it was formed,” a Number 10 spokesman said.
“The PM reiterated that as a firm friend of Israel, the UK continued to believe that a two-state solution was the best way to achieve a lasting peace and to secure Israel’s long-term security and prosperity.
“The two prime ministers also discussed the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, agreeing that it was essential to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
American president Barack Obama has said he takes Mr Netanyahu “at his word” over the two-state solution, despite Mr Netanyahu’s efforts to soften the position.
“We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Mr Obama told The Huffington Post.