Cameron to Tout Benefits of Peace in Knesset Address

Israeli officials hope Cameron will call Israel 'Jewish state' in first such statement by British prime minister in 20 years.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

David Cameron will be landing in Israel on Wednesday for the British prime minister's first visit since taking office in 2010.

According to the Guardian, Cameron, who will be addressing the Knesset in the afternoon, is expected to speak about how Israel and the Palestinians could benefit from a peace agreement.

He is also expected to drive home the point that time is running out to reach a two-state solution.

Cameron met Wednesday afternoon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem. As the 1:00 P.M. meeting opened, Netanyahu said Israel must act together with Britain to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to secure a peace agreement with Palestinians.

Following that short meeting, the two heads of government headed to the Knesset where Cameron is scheduled to deliver an address.

The British prime minister will later on meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog and with President Shimon Peres. At 7:30 P.M. Cameron will arrive at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem for a joint press conference with Netanyahu, followed by dinner.

Before leaving for Israel, Cameron put out a statement supporting U.S. attempts, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to draft a framework agreement as a basis for extending peace negotiations for another year.

"Secretary Kerry's efforts to secure agreement on a negotiating framework that could lead to peace are entering a critical phase," Cameron said. "And I'll be using my visit to support those peace efforts."

The British prime minister said that in his Knesset speech and during his meetings with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he would "encourage [the two leaders] to build on the strong leadership they have shown so far and to take the final difficult steps toward peace."

Cameron wil be emphasizing in his speech to Knesset that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will spur economic growth to both sides.

"The prize could be great - a stable, prosperous Middle East with a sovereign and viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel at the heart of it," Cameron said.

Israeli officials anticipate Cameron will criticize the the settlements in the West Bank but they also hope he would call Israel a "Jewish State," a statement not made by a British prime minister in over 20 years.

Cameron is arriving in Israel in the midst of a severe political dispute between the coalition and opposition over the Haredi draft bill and governance bill.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) requested from opposition lawmakers to refrain from creating provocations during the speeches of Cameron and Netanyahu. He hopes to avoid a repeat of the scene in Knesset during the speech by European Parliament President Martin Schulz last month. In that instance, MKs of Habayit Hayehudi party walked out in the middle of the speech in protest. Edelstein is worried opposition leaders will do the same when Netanyahu address Knesset.

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