Netanyahu set to meet May on Monday in London
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Netanyahu set to meet May on Monday in London

Israeli Prime Minister will visit to Britain, where he will meet the UK leader

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem.

Theresa May is set to hold talks with Benjamin Netanyahu in London on Monday, Israeli media is reporting.

The meeting will be the first between the two prime ministers since May entered Number 10 last summer.

Downing Street said Mrs May was expected to take the opportunity to restate Britain’s concern that settlement building in the West Bank is undermining trust in the Middle East peace process.

Announcing Mr Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to London, Mrs May’s official spokeswoman said: “I think they will want to talk about how we strengthen the bilateral relationship, particularly looking at trade and the progress that’s been made in recent years, particularly linking up on innovation and technology.

“Of course, alongside that, they will want to talk about a range of security and international issues, including the Middle East peace process.

“I would expect the Prime Minister to set out the Government’s position that we think the continued increase in settlement activity undermines trust.

“Our focus is on how we make a two-state solution, with an Israel that is safe from terrorism and a Palestinian state that is viable and sovereign, work.”

She added: “We realise and recognise that settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict and we understand the position of the Israelis and their right to live free from the threat of terrorism.

“That’s why we have pursued and will continue to pursue a twin-track approach which recognises both sides have legitimate concerns in this conflict and things to be addressed.”

The news was welcomed by Jewish representatives, including Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).

“We warmly welcome the forthcoming meeting,” he said. “It is entirely appropriate that a meeting such as this between the leaders of two allies should be taking place. There are many ties between the two countries, and these should be strengthened. The complex nature of the challenges in the region and those faced by Israel in particular should be high up on their agenda.”

It comes only a month after Jerusalem said foreign trips by Israeli ministers to countries that voted for the UN Security Council resolution against settlements. Israeli sources were at the time forced to deny reports Netanyahu would refuse to meet his British counterpart on the fringes of the Davos conference – a meeting he didn’t attend himself in the end.

As Israeli sources pointed to the UK having played a key role in pushing the resolution, Tory MP Mike Freer suggested the PM had been ‘blindsided’ by the foreign office.

Since then, the UK issued an unprecedented rebuke of John Kerry for his outspoken comments on the make-up of the Israeli governement and stressing that settlements were far from the only stumbling block in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The UK also refused to add its support to a communique issued after the Paris peace summit, suggesting it risked hardening positions.

The UK today issued a fresh condemnation of the Israeli government’s latest announcement of new settlements.

 

 

 

 

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