Cameron congratulates PM, but some MPs question future of peace process

David Cameron tweets: “As one of Israel’s firmest friends, the UK looks forward to working with the new government.”

March 19, 2015 02:07
2 minute read.
David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON – While official reaction to Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s election victory has been muted, with Foreign Office sources clearly wishing to downplay fears for the two-state solution in particular and the peace process in general, some MPs registered their concerns at the prospect of another right wing Israeli government.

Shortly after the results became known, British Premier David Cameron tweeted his congratulations to Netanyahu, adding “As one of Israel’s firmest friends, the UK looks forward to working with the new government.”

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Later Cameron’s spokesman said that Britain’s approach was to emphasize it wanted to see a two-state solution and to do “all we can to support that.”

Meanwhile, a Foreign Office source indicated to The Jerusalem Post that Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond would not be commenting on the election results at this stage. Instead, the office would most probably await official confirmation of the new administration.

But a Whitehall source wanted to make clear to the Post that negotiations with the Palestinians were essential. “We strongly believe that negotiations are the only way to secure a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the source said before repeating that the UK looked forward to working “with the new Israeli government, the US, the EU and the wider international community to that end.”

Attending an “election evening” event organized by BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications & Research Center, former Conservative Middle East Minister Alistair Burt told the Post that should Netanyahu retain his position, he very much hoped he would revisit his election eve definitive statement against a Palestinian state, though Burt agreed that these were matters for the Israeli people.

“All UK politicians would ask is that the security and prosperity of the State of Israel is uppermost for all those who will be debating the issues, and we wish them well,” Burt said.

Labor Friends of Israel vice chairwoman Louise Ellman could hardly hide her disappointment in a comment to the Post. Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, she said, had made “massive progress” in increasing the number of Knesset seats held by his party. “But I am disappointed this was not enough to form a government. It is essential that the peace process is resumed to face the challenges in the region and bring Israel long-term security,” she added.

During Commons Questions on Wednesday, International Development Minister Desmond Swayne told several pro-Palestinian MPs who registered strong concern at Israelis endorsement of Netanyahu’s policies on settlements, “occupation” and toward Gaza that they should not be “too hasty.”

“It will be some time before the true policies of the new government emerge, after long negotiations over a coalition. In the meantime, we remain committed to the two-state solution and we make our representations known on all the issues that have been raised, at the highest level,” Swayne said.

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