David Cameron has come under fire from Palestinian commentators for his strongly pro-Israel speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem, and particularly for his description of a post-settlement Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.
Challenged over his comment by a Palestinian reporter, he said: “I said that because, to me, that is what Israel is and Israel will be.
“Jews were persecuted around the world, six million were murdered in the Holocaust, so a decision was taken that Israel should be a homeland for the Jewish people and that’s what it is.”
He also urged the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to be “partners for peace” after holding talks with both sides during a two-day visit to the Middle East.
The Prime Minister’s visit was overshadowed by a massive rocket attack on Israel from Hamas-occupied Gaza, which caused no injuries but sparked air strikes by Israel in response.
Despite the attack – which he condemned “unreservedly” – Mr Cameron said he still believed it would be possible to reach a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians under the renewed drive in the peace process being pushed by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Speaking alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after talks in Bethlehem, which followed discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem yesterday, Mr Cameron said: “They both will have to take difficult and unpalatable and sometimes unpopular decisions for their constituencies in order to achieve that settlement, but I sense it’s possible. I’m not saying it’s definite or even probable, but it’s certainly possible.