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Britain says it could recognise Palestinian state before any Israel peace deal

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2 February 2024, The Age, by Fay Abuelgasim

Riyak, Lebanon: Britain’s top diplomat said his country could officially recognise a Palestinian state after a cease-fire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be yearslong talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron, during a visit to Lebanon intended to tamp down regional tensions, said no recognition could come while Hamas remained in Gaza, but that it could take place while Israeli negotiations with Palestinian leaders were continuing.

UK recognition of an independent state of Palestine, including in the United Nations, “can’t come at the start of the process, but it doesn’t have to be the very end of the process,” said Cameron, a former British prime minister.

“It could be something that we consider as this process, as this advance to a solution, becomes more real,” Cameron said. “What we need to do is give the Palestinian people a horizon towards a better future, the future of having a state of their own.”

That prospect is “absolutely vital for the long-term peace and security of the region,” he said.

Britain, the US and other Western countries have supported the idea of an independent Palestine existing alongside Israel as a solution to the region’s most intractable conflict, but have said Palestinian independence should come as part of a negotiated settlement. There have been no substantive negotiations since 2009.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, has publicly rejected the creation of an independent Palestinian state after the war, and has even boasted in recent weeks that he was instrumental in preventing Palestinian statehood.

A move by some of Israel’s key allies to recognise a Palestinian state without Israel’s buy-in could isolate Israel and put pressure on it to come to the table.

Cameron said the first step must be a “pause in the fighting” in Gaza that would eventually turn into “a permanent, sustainable cease-fire”.

He added that in order for his country to recognise a Palestinian state, the leaders of the Hamas militant group would need to leave Gaza “because you can’t have a two-state solution with Gaza still controlled by the people responsible for October 7,” referring to the deadly Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the war in Gaza.

Hamas has so far taken the position that its leaders would not leave the enclave as part of a cease-fire deal.

Cameron said his country is also proposing a plan to deescalate tensions on the Lebanon-Israel border, where the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces have been trading fire near-daily for the past four months, sparking fears of a wider war.

The plan would include Britain training Lebanese army forces to carry out more security work in the border region, he said.

More than 27,000 people have been killed and 66,000 wounded by Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the Hamas-controlled territory’s Health Ministry said on Thursday.

South Africa’s foreign minister has accused Israel of ignoring last week’s ruling by the United Nations’ top court, which ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent deaths in Gaza.

The number of deaths has grown by more than 1100 since the International Court of Justice in the Hague told Israel to do its best to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel denies the genocide accusations brought against it at the court by South Africa.

The Health Ministry said 27,019 Palestinians have been killed and 66,139 wounded since October 7. It does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths but says most of those killed were women and children.

The violence in Gaza continues to spill over into neighbouring countries. Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired two ballistic missiles on Thursday at a Liberian-flagged container ship in the Red Sea, a US defence official said, the latest attack by the rebels as America launches airstrikes against them.

Israel’s offensive was prompted by Hamas’ October 7 attack in southern Israel, which killed 1200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 250 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities.


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Article source: The Age/Fay Abuelgasim/2/3.2024

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000