UN, UK push Israel on role of two-state solution in ending Gaza war

PM Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood is attracting pushback.

Palestinians wounded during an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis are brought to a hospital in Rafah, also in the southern Gaza Strip [Hatem Ali/AP Photo]

The United Nations and the United Kingdom say a two-state solution is key to bringing peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict as international pushback against Israel’s rejection of Palestinian statehood grows.

The UK’s foreign minister said on Wednesday as he set off for a tour of the Middle East that he would highlight Britain’s long-term support for a two-state solution. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday insisted that denying Palestinian statehood would prolong the war in the Gaza Strip.

The statements reflect global concern after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week said he opposes an independent Palestinian state and his country needs full security control over the Palestinian territories.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting, Guterres called Israel’s rejection of a two-state solution “unacceptable”.

“This refusal and the denial of the right to statehood to the Palestinian people would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security,” Guterres warned.

Such an outcome “would exacerbate polarisation and embolden extremists everywhere”, he added.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was also set to address the topic as he embarked on a visit to the Middle East.

Cameron will arrive on Wednesday in Israel, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement. Visits are also scheduled in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Qatar and Turkey in hopes of achieving a “sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza.

In the West Bank, Cameron will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and highlight Britain’s long-term support for a two-state solution “so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace”, the Foreign Office said.

The US, Israel’s most important ally, has also said that there is no way to solve Israel’s long-term security challenges and rebuild Gaza without Palestinian statehood.

Earlier this week, the European Union’s top diplomat insisted on a two-state solution to the conflict, saying Israel’s plan to destroy the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza is not working.

“No one wants to see this conflict go on a moment longer than necessary,” Cameron stated. “An immediate pause is now necessary to get aid in and hostages out. The situation is desperate.”

Cameron said he was looking to chart a course “to move from that pause to a sustainable, permanent ceasefire without a return to hostilities”.

“Such a plan would require Hamas to agree to the release of all hostages, Hamas to no longer be in charge of Gaza launching rocket attacks at Israel, and an agreement in place for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza in order to provide governance and services and, increasingly, security,” the former prime minister asserted.

According to the Foreign Office, Cameron will also urge Israel to open more crossing points to allow aid deliveries into Gaza, including the Israeli port at Ashdod and the Karem Abu Salem crossing (known as Kerem Shalom in Hebrew), and demand that water, fuel and electricity supplies be restored to the coastal enclave.

Israel unleashed its latest war in Gaza after Hamas attacks inside Israel on October 7.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, at least, 25,700 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children, have been killed in the conflict. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are displaced, causing a humanitarian disaster.

The death toll in Israel from the October 7 Hamas attacks stands at 1,139.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies