Lord Cameron’s Palestinian state speech was not signed off by No 10

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Lord Cameron’s Palestinian state speech was not signed off by No 10

Speech in which the Foreign Secretary told Arab ambassadors "we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like" was not deemed to be a formal one

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

David Cameron addresses FCDO HMD reception
David Cameron addresses FCDO HMD reception

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.

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