UK opposition leader Miliband meets Abbas in Ramallah

British Labour head finishes 3-day Mideast trip; expresses support for Jewish homeland, slams West Bank settlement building.

April 12, 2014 21:12
2 minute read.
abbas miliband

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Britain's Labour Party leader Ed Miliband in Ramallah April 12, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah on Saturday with UK opposition leader Ed Miliband and briefed him on the current crisis in the peace talks with Israel.

Abbas told Miliband the Palestinians remain committed to a just and everlasting peace that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital on the pre-1967 lines, according to a statement released by the PA president’s office.

It said Abbas also told Miliband that Israel’s refusal to release the fourth and last batch of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March was behind the current crisis. Abbas also complained about continued settlement construction.

The statement said Abbas also updated the Labour Party leader on the circumstances surrounding the PA leadership’s decision to apply for membership in 15 international treaties.

On Friday, Miliband met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

During his trip to Israel, Miliband has said he is a supporter of “the homeland for the Jewish people” but criticized the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"What I have seen today shows that the expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank is not only wrong and illegal but represents a mortal threat to the two-state solution and to a successful outcome of the peace process," the BBC quoted him as saying during a visit to the Beduin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank on Saturday.

The Labour leader's trip follows on from British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the region last month.

The visit was one of Miliband's first major foreign trips since he became the opposition leader in 2010.

Meanwhile, British media reported Miliband as saying he wanted to be become the Britain's first Jewish premier, saying he would not be deterred by anti-Semitic "elements" present in the UK.

Miliband, a self-proclaimed atheist who identifies as Jewish by heritage, was seeking to win the premiership in Britain's 2015 general elections.

Miliband's father escaped from Belgium to England in 1940 and his mother hid in a convent in Poland during the Holocaust.

“Someone asked me if I thought it was a disadvantage, that people would be less likely to vote for me because I’m Jewish, and I said absolutely not," London's Daily Telegraph quoted the British opposition leader as saying.

British media has scrutinized Miliband's claim that he would be the country's first Jewish prime minister, noting twice-serving former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, who was born to a Jewish family, but was baptized at the age of 12.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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