David Cameron has urged Israel to pursue a peace deal with Palestinians that could mean “an end of all conflict” in the Middle East.
On his first visit to the country as Prime Minister, Mr Cameron backed the current drive led by US Secretary of State John Kerry to rekindle the peace process by persuading Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree an outline for a final deal by the end of April.
In a speech to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Mr Cameron set out his vision of the dividends which peace could deliver to their country, not only in terms of security, but also justice, prosperity and dignity for both sides.
Describing himself as a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is “unbreakable” and whose commitment to its security is “rock solid”, Mr Cameron said he would always defend the country’s right to defend its citizens against attack.
He promised that he would oppose any calls for boycotts, whether economic, trade or academic, designed to isolate Israel.
As Mr Netanyahu welcomed Mr Cameron to the Knesset, there was a walkout by a handful of MPs from religious parties, and his welcome speech was repeatedly interrupted by heckles from political opponents, apparently directed at the Israeli PM rather than his visitor.
As he urged Israeli MPs to look forwards and work for a peaceful future, the Prime Minister said the message from Britain was “Simply this: We’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Mr Cameron said a final peace deal would deliver “extraordinary” economic benefits for Israel and the Palestinians by enabling them to work together and forge trade and business links with neighbouring Arab states and elsewhere in the world.
He said he wanted to encourage Israelis to focus on the benefits of a two-state solution, “a deal that means an end of all claims – and an end of all conflict.”