Britain “disappointed” by Netanyahu’s stance on Palestinian statehood

LONDON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to a future sovereign Palestinian state is “disappointing”, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said on Monday, reiterating British support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden have disagreed over the future creation of an independent Palestinian state, with Netanyahu saying at the weekend he would not compromise on “full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River”.

Asked about Netanyahu’s comments, Sunak’s spokesman told reporters: “It’s disappointing to hear this from the Israeli prime minister.”

“The UK’s position remains (that) a two-state solution, with a viable and sovereign Palestinian state living alongside a safe and secure Israel, is the best route to lasting peace,” the spokesman said.

The two-state solution has long been the fundamental framework of international efforts to resolve the conflict but the peace process has been moribund for years.

Britain has backed Israel’s right to retaliate against Hamas after the militant group’s deadly Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel.

Sunak’s government has also called for Israel to respect humanitarian law and pauses in the fighting in the Gaza Strip to allow more aid into the besieged enclave. It wants a “sustainable ceasefire” based on the release of hostages by Hamas, in order to limit civilian casualties.

“Clearly, there will be a long road to recovery and lasting security in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel,” the spokesman said. “But we will continue our long term support for the two-state solution for as long as it takes.”

(Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Angus MacSwan)