Floods force Cameron to postpone visit

British prime minister informs Israel, Palestinian Authority that trip will be postponed in order to deal with disaster relief efforts.

British Prime Minister David Cameron 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)
British Prime Minister David Cameron 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)
British Prime Minister David Cameron informed Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday that he is postponing his trip to the region in order to stay in Britain and coordinate flood relief efforts.
“I’m canceling my visit to the Middle East next week,” Cameron told a news conference in London, where his government is coming under fire for what critics say has been its slow response to the floods that have drenched southern England. “I’m sending my apologies today to Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, but nothing is more important than dealing with these floods.”
This was to be Cameron’s first visit to Israel as prime minister, and – in addition to meeting with Netanyahu – he was expected to address the Knesset. He was to visit next Tuesday and Wednesday.
His visit was going to be the start of a grueling diplomatic period for Netanyahu, who will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel on February 24-25, before going to the US for a meeting with President Barack Obama on March 3.
Among the topics that Netanyahu was to discuss with Cameron, and that he will be discussing with Merkel, is the document US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to present in the coming weeks to serve as a basis for continuing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It is likely this document will be presented when Netanyahu meets Obama, Ma’ariv reported on Tuesday.
The document will include a Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, alongside the characterization of Palestine as the national home of the Palestinian people, according to the paper.
The document will call for negotiations to begin on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, with land swaps taking into consideration the demographic changes since 1967, the report says.
This type of wording first appeared in then-US president George W. Bush’s famous April 2004 letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon, saying that any agreement will have to take into consideration the demographic changes on the ground.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office would neither confirm nor deny the reports, saying Jerusalem does not yet know what is in the document.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is scheduled to fly to Paris on Wednesday for meetings with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, Interior Minister Manuel Valls, parliament members as well as leaders of the Jewish community.
He will also meet with José Ángel Gurría, the secretary- general of the OECD.
Liberman, speaking in Ashdod, said he did not know whether an Israeli-Palestinian agreement was close, but was renovating his home in the Gush Etzion settlement of Nokdim and adding on an additional room.
The ball was in the “Palestinians’ court,” Liberman said, asserting that the US and the Europeans know well the steps Israel has taken, and is willing to take, to move the process forward.