British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss the peace talks and Iran.
After landing at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Cameron went straight to Jerusalem to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks.
Cameron said getting to a peace deal with the Palestinians was “absolutely vital” to the world.
“I am here to do everything I can to persuade Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to take the bold and courageous decisions to bring that two state solution to pass,” he said.
Netanyahu said the two would discuss stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, advancing peace talks and expanding business and defense ties.
On Thursday, Cameron is scheduled to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinian officials said.
It is Cameron’s first official visit to the region since the Conservative leader took over as premier in 2010.
Cameron’s visit comes as the US-led peace negotiations struggle to make headway before an April 29 deadline, with US Secretary of State John Kerry pushing both leaders to accept a framework proposal that would extend the talks to year’s end.
Ahead of his arrival, Downing Street said Cameron would focus on the opportunities that a peace agreement would bring.
“Secretary Kerry’s efforts to secure agreement on a negotiating framework that could lead to peace are entering a critical phase. And I’ll be using my visit to support those peace efforts,” Cameron was quoted as saying before leaving London.
He said he would encourage both leaders “to take the final difficult steps towards peace” which could offer both sides a future that was both secure and prosperous.
But Netanyahu was expected to use the meeting to discuss Iran and was likely to show Cameron what he believes is proof of Iranian involvement in a weapons ship seized in the Red Sea last week which was allegedly being sent to Palestinian militants in Gaza, Israeli public radio said.
During the afternoon, Cameron will address the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, before meeting with President Shimon Peres. He will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Cameron and Netanyahu will hold a joint news conference Wednesday evening, after which they will dine together.
The British leader, who is accompanied by a delegation of business leaders, wants to use the visit to strengthen business ties with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Downing Street said.
“Our tech partnership is the strongest of any in the world and we should capitalize on this — creating more jobs back in Britain and delivering economic security for hard-working families,” Cameron said before leaving London.
Cameron had been scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in mid-February but stayed in London to deal with storms which battered his country.