Dominic Raab used a meeting with the Palestinian Authority president this week to urge closer co-operation with Israel, following the decision to suspend annexation plans for the West Bank.
The foreign secretary’s visit to the Middle East follows the normalisation of relations this month between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which came with the suspension of Israeli annexation plans of the West Bank – a move the UK Government welcomed as a boost for peace in the region.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet minister met Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as part of a wider visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
He encouraged the Palestinians to “re-engage” with Israel following developments in the Middle East, brokered by the US, this month.
The UAE and Israel are set to establish diplomatic ties in a deal that halted planned annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state, it was announced on August 13.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The Foreign Secretary used his discussions with President Abbas to set out the UK’s unwavering commitment to a two-state solution.
“In their meeting, the Foreign Secretary encouraged President Abbas to re-engage in direct discussions with Israel given the suspension of annexation plans.
“They discussed the twin challenges that Covid and the excessive constraints of Israeli occupation were placing on the Palestinian people.
“The UK has provided long-standing development support to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Foreign Secretary set out further contributions today to help alleviate the impacts of coronavirus.”
In Israel, the Foreign Secretary had been due to meet his counterpart, foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi, hold bilateral talks with minister of defence and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz, and under-pressure prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minister declared earlier this month that, while President Donald Trump’s US administration had asked that Israel put its West Bank annexation plans on hold to move forward with the UAE agreement, there was “no change” to his government’s long-term annexation plans.
• Parliamentary supporters of Israel have written to Dominic Raab to urge the UK to stop Iran from buying conventional weapons again. In a letter from Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), Raab was told that the UK’s decision not to extend the arms embargo due to expire on 18 October 2020 was “deeply regrettable”.