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U.K. mulls recognizing a Palestinian state to advance two-state solution, defuse Israel-Hamas war

Funding pulled from U.N. aid agency
U.S., dozens of other countries pull funding from U.N. aid agency over Oct. 7 allegations 04:58

London — The United Kingdom "will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Monday at a London reception for Arab ambassadors. The U.K., like the United States, supports a two-state solution to the decades-old crisis in the Middle East, whereby Israelis and Palestinians would negotiate an end to the conflict through the creation of a new independent nation of Palestine to exist alongside Israel. 

As the Israel-Hamas war continues, the U.K. has joined others — not, however, the U.S. — in calling for an immediate pause in the fighting, as well as the release of all hostages being held in Gaza and the provision of humanitarian aid to the war-torn Palestinian territory.

But "most important of all," Cameron told the Arab ambassadors, "is to give the Palestinian people a political horizon."

Cameron, a former U.K. prime minister, said it was essential to demonstrate to Palestinians and the wider region that "there is going to be irreversible progress to a two-state solution and, crucially, the establishment of a Palestinian state."

"We have a responsibility there, because we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like; what it would comprise; how it would work," he said, adding that  the U.K. recognizing a Palestinian state at the U.N. "could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible."

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron
U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron Bloomberg / Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in November that a two-state solution was "the only way to ensure lasting security for a Jewish and democratic Israel, the only way to ensure that the Palestinians achieve their legitimate aspirations for a state of their own." 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the idea of an independent Palestinian state, insisting that Israel needs to maintain "full security control" over the Gaza Strip when the war comes to an end.

Palestinian Ambassador to the U.K. Husam Zomlot told the Financial Times newspaper that Cameron's remarks were "historic."

"It is the first time a U.K. foreign secretary considers recognizing the State of Palestine, bilaterally and in the U.N., as a contribution to a peaceful solution rather than an outcome," Husam said, according to the FT.

Qatar, the U.S., and Egypt have been trying to negotiate a new temporary pause in the fighting in Gaza so the remaining hostages taken when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 can be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Qatar's prime minister said "good progress" was made during the most recent meeting between top intelligence officials from those countries in Paris over the weekend.

"We are hoping to relay this proposal to Hamas and to get them to a place where they engage positively and constructively in the process," Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said at an event in Washington, D.C., adding that he believed the negotiations had put the parties "in a much better place than where we were a few weeks ago."

Hamas said in a Tuesday statement attributed to the office of its top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, that the group had received the proposal and was in the process of studying it before submitting a response, with the "priority being to stop the brutal aggression on Gaza, and the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces from the Strip."

-Khaled Wassef contributed to this report.

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