Downing Street had not given sign off to remarks made by Lord Cameron to Arab ambassadors in which he said “we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like” because the foreign secretary’s speech was deemed not to be a formal one.
Lord Cameron’s words had sparked a backlash from some Tory MPs after he suggested Britain could bring forward formal UK recognition of a Palestinian state.
But a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak later told Jewish News that the foreign secretary’s words were “very similar” to those in speeches Cameron had previously given.
Cameron told the ambassadors event in London on Monday night :”We should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like – what it would comprise, how it would work.”
“As that happens, we, with allies, will look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations. This could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible.”
Conservative former minister Sir Michael Ellis was among those to raise concerns about Cameron’s message at PMQs on Wednesday : “All of us want to see a peaceful and demilitarised Palestinian state, however Hamas remain in control in large parts of Gaza, support is growing in the West Bank.,” he said.
The former attorney general, who is himself Jewish, said: “Does (the Prime Minister) agree that any recognition of a Palestinian state must address these issues and can only come about as part of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians?”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The Government’s position is clear… there are steps and conditions that need to be put in place on this journey.
“First and foremost the removal of Hamas from Gaza, a Palestinian-led government in Gaza and the West Bank, a concrete plan to reform and support the Palestinian Authority, a reconstruction plan for Gaza, and a two-state solution which we have long supported.”
“We stand with Israel”, he said, appearing to suggest the “terrorist threat” they face must be eliminated, adding: “Israel’s lasting security must be guaranteed.”
Sunak’s aides later insisted Cameron’s speech had been consistent with government policy.
Senior Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the head of the foreign affairs committee, was among those welcoming Lord Cameron’s remarks – saying it marked “a fundamental change in the UK position”.
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell responded to Lord Cameron’s remarks on Tuesday by insisting that there has been “no change” in UK policy.
Among those to criticise the speech was Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers.
She said it was “really disturbing” that Lord Cameron appeared to have “changed the UK government’s approach”.
“Will the minister agree with me that bringing forward and accelerating unilateral recognition of Palestinian state would be to reward Hamas’ atrocities?” she asked.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.