Cameron: UK could officially recognise Palestinian state

Cameron: UK could officially recognise Palestinian state
The UK foreign secretary said his country is considering the recognition of a Palestinian state and pushing for a two-state solution.
4 min read
30 January, 2024
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says the UK is considering the recognition of Palestinian state [Getty]

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that the UK is looking to formally recognise the State of Palestine to promote a permanent solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

Cameron, a former prime minister, is embarking on his fourth visit to the region since being appointed foreign secretary in November. 

Speaking at a reception for Arab ambassadors at the House of Commons on Monday, Cameron called for an "irreversible progress" that will help establish the Palestinian state via a five-point plan for a two-state solution

"Together with that, almost most important of all is to give the Palestinian people a political horizon so that they can see that there is going to be irreversible progress to a two-state solution and crucially the establishment of a Palestinian state," Cameron said. 

"We have a responsibility there because we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like, what it would comprise, how it would work and crucially, looking at the issue, that as that happens, we with allies will look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations. 

"That could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible." 

The foreign secretary urged Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, adding that it was "ludicrous" that support offered by the UK was being blocked at the border. 

Cameron also suggested that London could give formal and diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine during early negotiations, instead of waiting for a final peace plan. 

The former PM also called for a new Palestinian Authority to potentially govern Gaza, consisting of "technocratic and good leaders".

Cameron said that as part of a long-term peace deal, Hamas would have to agree to release all Israeli hostages held in Gaza, not attack Israel, and for its leaders to depart the enclave.

While a Gaza peace deal would be "difficult" there were "hopeful signs" that ongoing negotiations could bring one about, but it would need to be a sustainable and permanent ceasefire that would prevent a return to clashes. 

"There is a path that we can now see opening up where we really can make progress, not just in ending the conflict, but progress in finding a political solution that can mean peace for years rather than peace for months," Cameron said. 

"That is the prize we should be looking for, and more than that, not just how you go from pause to sustainable ceasefire, but how you go from there to a set of political moves and arrangements that could start to deliver the longer-term political solution."

He said that while previous efforts to bring about a sustainable peace had failed, the international community should not give up hope.

 "If the last 30 years tells us anything, it is a story of failure,” Cameron continued. 

"Ultimately it is a story of failure for Israel because yes, they had a growing economy, yes they had rising living standards, yes they invested in defence and security and walls and the rest of it, but they couldn't provide what a state most wants, what every family wants, which is security. And so the last 30 years has been a failure. 

"And it is only by recognising that failure and recognising that true peace and progress will come when the benefits of peace and progress are greater than the benefits of returning to fighting." 

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, described Cameron's comments on possibly recognising the State of Palestine as "historic".

"This is historic. It is the first time a UK foreign secretary considers recognising the state of Palestine, bilaterally and in the UN, as a contribution to a peaceful solution rather than an outcome," he tweeted.

He said a UK recognition was "both a Palestinian right and a British moral, political, legal and historical responsibility". 

"If implemented, the Cameron declaration would remove Israel’s veto power over Palestinian statehood, would boost efforts toward a two state outcome, and would begin correcting the historic injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people by colonial Britain's Balfour declaration," he added.

Cameron's comments on Palestinian statehood stood in contrast to recent comments by opposition leader Keir Starmer, who ruled out unilateral recognition under a Labour government and said this would only happen in conjunction with other states. 

An overwhelming majority of President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats in the Senate last week backed a statement reiterating US support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Forty-nine of the 51 members of the Senate Democratic caucus backed an amendment supporting a negotiated solution to the conflict that results in Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side.