Cameron: Britain's support for Israel ‘unshakable’

'Guardian' reports British PM told Netanyahu that UK may consider supporting Palestinian UN statehood bid if Israel fails to join peace talks; US expects Palestinians to stick to principles of peace after unity deal.

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May 5, 2011 01:02
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Cameron in London, Wednesday.

netanyahu and cameron_311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

 
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LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged a commitment to Israeli security – but did not promise to reject the Fatah- Hamas unity deal – when he began his meeting Wednesday night with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli leader entered the meeting at 10 Downing Street hoping to hear those words from Cameron.

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Netanyahu believes that a Palestinian government that is aligned with Hamas, an organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction, is a threat to Israel’s security.

But although Fatah and Hamas signed a unity agreement in Cairo on Wednesday, Cameron did not even mention it at the start of their meeting.


“Britain is a good friend of Israel, and our support for Israel and Israel’s security is unshakable. We are strong friends of Israel,” he said.

“There is a real opportunity with the end of bin Laden, and the Arab spring.

“This is a moment of opportunity to continue the work, and to defeat terrorism in our world and to continue the expansion of democracy, civil rights and freedom across the Middle East and North Africa,” Cameron continued.



Although Netanyahu has said that the unity deal has dealt a blow to the peace process, Cameron nevertheless said he believed that there was an opportunity to “push forward the process of peace between Israel and Palestine.”

Although the Hamas-Fatah unity deal is the issue upmost on Netanyahu’s mind, he did not mention it at the start of the meeting, either.

Instead he spoke in more global terms.

“I think the fate of the Middle East and the fate of peace hangs in the balance,” he said.

Addressing Cameron, he said, “You have taken a resolute stance against tyranny and terror in such places as Iran and Libya. We think that moral clarity and political clarity can ensure that peace wins out.”

Israeli officials said that during the meeting Cameron did say that the United Kingdom was committed to the Quartet's principles that Hamas must renounce terror, recognize Israel and abide by past agreements with Israel.

The Guardian quoted a diplomatic source as saying Cameron told Netanyahu that Britain would consider supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians if Israel fails to join substantive peace talks to create a two-state solution.

"Britain's clear and absolute preference is for a negotiation to take place between Israel and the Palestinians which leads to a two state solution which everyone endorses.  But at this point Britain is not ruling anything out. The more Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process the less likely it is that this question of unilateral declaration would arise," the source said.

Outside the meeting, however, it was Syria, not Israel, that worried activists in London.

Indeed, although an Israeli prime minister was at Downing Street, activists gathered outside to demonstrate against Syria.

“Down with Assad,” they shouted, as the two men talked.

Unlike Cameron’s publicly avoiding any mention of the Palestinian unity agreement, a top US official said Washington expected the Palestinians to stick to the principles of peace.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US expected to receive a document from the Palestinians detailing each and every point in the unity agreement, Israel Radio reported.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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