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UK minister condemns ‘disappointing’ Netanyahu rejection of Palestinian state

Cabinet minister Grant Shapps has condemned “disappointing” comments by Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting Palestinian statehood.

The defence secretary saying the UK government remains “wedded” to the idea of a two-state solution – arguing that there “isn’t another option”.

Rishi Sunak’s government has largely resisted criticism of Israel since it launched strikes on Gaza in the wake of the 7 October Hamas terror attack.

But Mr Shapps offer a strong rebuke of Mr Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian sovereignty and insistence his country needs full security control over the territories.

“I think it’s disappointing to hear Benjamin Netanyahu saying he doesn’t believe in a two-state solution,” he told Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips.

Mr Shapps added: “In fairness, he’s said that all of his political career, as far as I can tell. I don’t think we get to a solution unless we have a two-state solution.”

Addressing the Netanyahu remarks on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Mr Shapps said: “Palestinians deserve a sovereign state. Israel deserves to have the full ability to defend itself, its own security.”

Grant Shapps visited Israel in December to offer support in wake of Hamas terror attack

(PA)

He added: “Now, you’ll get a lot of different views within the Israeli government, of course, it is a rainbow coalition. So we very much distinguish between the views of individuals and our overall support for Israel as a country.”

Mr Netanyahu raised the stakes with the US, UK and other allies by doubling down on his rejection of a two-state solution with a statement on X late on Saturday.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over the entire area west of Jordan – and this is contrary to a Palestinian state,” the Israeli leader said.

It came in defiance of Joe Biden, who hours earlier had voiced hope that a two-state solution was still possible even while Mr Netanyahu remains in office, following a call with the Israeli leader.

The US president had claimed that Mr Netanyahu was not opposed to all two-state solutions.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu insists his country must take control of Gaza

(Reuters)

But in a new statement, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Mr Netanyahu told Mr Biden that “after Hamas is destroyed, Israel must retain security control over Gaza to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, a requirement that contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty”.

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party has also rebuked Mr Netanyahu’s position. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper on Sunday echoed the Labour leader and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy in saying: “Those words from Netanyahu were completely unacceptable.”

She told Sky News: “Statehood of a people is not in the gift of its neighbour, it is the right of a people and it is the right of the Palestinian people.”

Mr Lammy on Saturday said Mr Netanyahu’s stance would mean “occupation and siege continues” in Gaza, where the Palestinian death toll is now above 25,000, according to local health authorities.

David Lammy dashes off stage as speech interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters

Mr Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the offensive in Gaza for many months despite mounting pressure on Israel to rein in its military action as the scale of death and destruction intensifies.

The White House earlier this week announced it was the “right time” for Israel to lower the intensity of its military action in Gaza.

Israel launched the offensive after an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas on 7 October, in which 1,200 people were killed and some 240 others taken hostage.

Roughly 130 hostages are believed by Israel to remain in Hamas captivity. Israel’s assault on Gaza has been one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history.


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