British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said his country could officially recognize a Palestinian state after a ceasefire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be years-long talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution.
UK recognition of an independent state of Palestine, including in the United Nations, “can’t come at the start of the process, but it doesn’t have to be the very end of the process,” Cameron, a former British prime minister, said on Thursday during a visit to Lebanon.
“It could be something that we consider as this process, as this advance to a solution, becomes more real,” Cameron said. “What we need to do is give the Palestinian people a horizon towards a better future, the future of having a state of their own.”
That prospect is “absolutely vital for the long-term peace and security of the region,” he added.
Cameron said the first step must be a “pause in the fighting” in Gaza that would eventually turn into “a permanent, sustainable ceasefire.”
He added that in order for his country to recognize a Palestinian state, the leaders of the Hamas terror group would need to leave Gaza “because you can’t have a two-state solution with Gaza still controlled by the people responsible for October 7,” referring to the deadly Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the war in Gaza.
Hamas has so far taken the position that its leaders would not leave the enclave as part of a ceasefire deal.
Britain, the US and other Western countries have supported the idea of an independent Palestine existing alongside Israel as a solution to the region’s most intractable conflict, but have said Palestinian independence should come as part of a negotiated settlement. There have been no substantive negotiations since 2009.
On Monday, Cameron said the UK was considering recognizing a Palestinian state as a way to mark progress toward a two-state solution after a ceasefire in Gaza.
Speaking to the Conservative Middle East Council at the House of Commons, Cameron said such recognition – after Hamas releases all hostages – would represent “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. “As that happens, we, with allies, will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations. This could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible.”
The UK is pushing a five-point plan that would see an end to the fighting, the release of hostages held in Gaza, a “political horizon” for a two-state solution, and a technocratic Palestinian government that would run both Gaza and the West Bank.
It would necessitate Hamas leaders being expelled to another country, a move they have rejected.