Leaders meet in London, agree to move forward with bilateral free trade agreements in areas of technology, economy and cyber security; Netanyahu on settlements: We clear the territory, and it becomes a stronghold of Iran or Islamic State, or both, so we cannot enter an imagined reality.
During his visit to Britain to meet with Prime Minister May on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that both states see “eye to eye” on nuclear Iran.
Netanyahu met with May on Monday ahead of a diplomatic visit to Belgium before returning to Israel on Tuesday. Speaking to the press following their meeting, Netanyahu confirmed that Israel and Britain see “eye to eye on the grave danger that stems from Iran’s buildup and aggression, and its expansion into vast areas, as well as consequences for Iran should its aggression continue.”
Netanyahu and May’s meeting centered on strengthening ties between the UK and Israel as Britain exits the European Union, as well as increasing cooperation and development in the areas of economy, cyber security and technology. Both leaders agreed to move forward with bilateral free trade agreements in these areas.
Netanyahu stated that during their meeting both leaders discussed not only Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish State, but also spoke about Syria, Hezbollah and Iran’s support and involvement in supporting terror against Israel in the Middle East. The Prime Minister confirmed that the discussion included “what is transpiring in Syria, Hezbollah’s and the Iranian army’s involvement there.” He emphasized that both “agreed that it is important to stop this situation through a number of means.”
Addressing the press ahead of their meeting Monday, Prime Minister May stated that “Britain remains a very strong, close friend of Israel, with lots of areas in which we already work together, such as science and trade, but also other areas like security,” adding that there are “multiple areas that we can add to that, looking to the future.”
May also addressed the British government’s support for a two-state solution, stating “We remain committed to a two-state solution. It’s the best way of building stability, peace and prosperity in the future.” While Britain did vote in favor of United Nations Security Council 2334 in December, but was vocal in criticizing any unilateral efforts by the Palestinian Authority as well as ongoing anti-Israel efforts by the international community.
Britain sent junior diplomats to the Paris Peace Conference in January as observers and not participants during the meeting of 28 foreign ministers at the Council of the European Union in protest of the conference. Britain, alongside Balkan states, then blocked the European Union from adopting the declaration made during the Paris Middle East Peace Conference. Britain also criticized the conference for taking place “against the wish of the Israelis” as well as having occurred following Obama’s abstention vote in the Security Council and for occurring just days ahead of the Trump Administration. Britain’s Foreign Ministry stated at the time “We will continue to support efforts to improve conditions on the ground to enable negotiations to resume and look forward to working with the parties, the new US Administration and other countries represented in this conference to make progress in 2017 and beyond.”
On the Palestinians, Netanyahu confirmed that he made clear to Prime Minister May that peace with the Palestinians will come only when there is “recognition of our national homeland,” and that “even given this recognition, there is no situation in the foreseeable future in which Israel will not be the sovereign body and the only authority to control security west of Jordan.”
On the accusations internationally that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are an “obstacle to peace”, he stated “I told May that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. They [the Palestinians] do not recognize us there. We clear the territory, and it becomes a stronghold of Iran or Islamic State, or both, so we cannot enter an imagined reality.”