Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with British PM David Cameron.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Palestinians and Israelis to make difficult and unpopular decisions to achieve peace during a visit to Bethlehem on Thursday.
In a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the city Thursday afternoon, Cameron announced British investments in Palestinian businesses to empower the economy.
At a joint press conference, Cameron described both parties as partners for peace and said he saw both leaderships willing to reach an agreement.
“They both will have to take difficult and unpalatable decisions and sometimes – unpopular decisions for their constituencies in order to achieve that settlement, but I sense it is possible,” Cameron said. “I’m not saying it’s definite or even probable, but it’s certainly possible.”
Commenting on the recent escalation in the region, Cameron confirmed that violence would not lead to peace, adding that he unreservedly condemns violence.
In turn, Abbas condemned the killing of six Palestinians over the past two days.
“The Israeli occupation forces have killed three Palestinians in the West Bank, and three in Gaza in cold blood,” he said.
“We haven’t heard any apology or condemnation from the Israeli government.”
Abbas expressed appreciation for the efforts of the US and the Middle East Quartet (UN, Russia, EU and the US) in regards to the peace talks.
Asked about his comments to the Knesset that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people, Cameron said: “To me this is what Israel is and what Israel will be. Jews were persecuted around the world – six million were murdered in the Holocaust – so the decision was taken that Israel should be a homeland for the Jewish people.”
“Our position hasn ’t changed and we want to see a two-state solution with a viable independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders, with mutually agreed swaps, side-by-side with a secure Israel,” he added.
“Britain wants to help Palestine build strong institutions and a strong economy, so today we further support almost a hundred Palestinian businesses to become more competitive,” Cameron said, pledging six million pounds to help restore farming land in Area C. “This will benefit nearly a thousand farming communities and increase land production,” he said, also promising to help “de-mine three mine fields in the West Bank for agricultural reasons.”
On Monday, Abbas is heading to Washington to meet with the US President Barack Obama to discuss the stumbling peace negotiations, which are set to end in April.
“Until this moment, and maybe we will in the near future, we haven’t received the promised framework to read,” Abbas said. “We agreed on a nine-month period for negotiations and we have a great hope that we will achieve tangible results in this period.”
Thanking the British people and government for their support, Abbas said the Palestinians will continue efforts to achieve a peaceful solution.
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