Netanyahu describes Johnson as 'great friend' amid pro-Palestine protests outside Downing Street

Netanyahu describes Johnson as 'great friend' amid pro-Palestine protests outside Downing Street
2 min read
05 September, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to 10 Downing Street was interrupted by protestors.
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu is greeted by premier Johnson at 10 Downing Street [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson met for a brief half-hour meeting on Thursday, as a number of pro-Palestine groups protested outside 10 Downing Street.

The two leaders discussed Iran and the two-state solution, Haaretz reported. Netanyahu thanked Johnson for his support of Israel.

"Boris, it's always a pleasure to see you, but especially now in your role as prime minister," Netanyahu told Johnson as he arrived at his residence, Haaretz reported.

"I want to say that you've been a great friend of the Jewish people and Israel. I applaud your staunch stance against anti-Semitism and your support for Israel's security."

The snap visit by Netanyahu just two weeks ahead of impending Israeli elections will also include with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper. US Vice President Mike Pence is also in London and will meet Johnson.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa and Stop the War Coalition called an emergency protest at noon outside 10 Downing Street as news of Netanyahu's visit broke.

Videos on social media show protestors chanting: "Stop arming Israel, stop bombing Gaza."

This is the first time in their new positions that Johnson and Esper will meet a leader from the Middle East. This will also be the first time Netanyahu meets the two since they began in their current roles.

The news of his snap visit came two days after Prime Minister Netanyahu axed a scheduled visit to India, citing "schedule constraints" ahead of the elections.

Netanyahu will vye to again secure the premiership on 17 September.

Netanyahu is also reportedly seeking a friendly diplomatic gesture from US President Donald Trump that would help him secure his place in power later this month.

Talks have been held between Netanyahu's advisers and people close to President Trump over a possible statement, Haaretz reported on Tuesday. 

The statement would include a US commitment to protect Israel from any future threat.

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The Israeli premier has also renewed his pledge from the country's April elections to annex illegal settlements in the West Bank if elected.

Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies won the most seats in an April election but an election was called for September after they failed to forge a viable coalition.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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