Israel faces further pushback from allies as No 10 calls Netanyahu's stance 'disappointing'

Right-wing leader Mr Netanyahu has doubled down on his rejection of Palestinian sovereignty. Credit: AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state is “disappointing”, No 10 has said, as Israel continues to push back against its allies in the UK and US.

The UK government has vowed to press on with its support for a two-state solution in the Middle East for “as long as it takes” in the face of Israel’s premier saying he would “not compromise” on Tel Aviv control over Palestinian territories.

The restating of the foreign policy position came as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had a meeting in London with relatives of Israeli hostages.

Right-wing leader Mr Netanyahu doubled down on his rejection of Palestinian sovereignty as part of any post-war plan, saying his country needs full control over the Palestinian territories when the Israel-Hamas conflict is over.

Israeli soldiers are briefed after coming back from the Gaza Strip at a staging area in southern Israel. Credit: AP

He wrote on X, formerly Twitter, late on Saturday: “I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over the entire area west of Jordan – and this is contrary to a Palestinian state.”

The remarks, rebuked by UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and senior Labour Party figures, deepened a public rift with the US, which has argued a two-state solution is essential for long-term stability.

Asked about the Israeli leader’s stance, Mr Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters on Monday: “It is disappointing to hear this from the Israeli prime minister.

“The UK’s position remains that a two-state solution with a viable and sovereign Palestinian state living alongside a safe and secure Israel is the best route to lasting peace.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters on Monday: 'It is disappointing to hear this from the Israeli prime minister.' Credit: PA

“Clearly there will be a long road to recovery and lasting security in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

“But we will continue our long-term support for a two-state solution for as long as it takes.”

On Monday afternoon, Mr Sunak met family members of Israeli hostages who are still being held in Gaza following Hamas’s raids on October 7.

According to online news outlet Politico, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will also speak with those who have flown to London.

The three-day visit by the families is reportedly designed to put pressure on Britain to encourage Qatar, which has facilitated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in order to help secure hostage releases, to “pick a side” in the conflict.

The prime minister’s spokesman said the Qataris remain an “important partner” both for securing the release of further hostages and for regional stability in the Middle East.

“We are working closely with them, as are our US allies, to both of those ends,” the spokesman added.

He said the UK government continues to “push for humanitarian pauses” in the conflict as the “fastest way” of freeing more captives and allowing aid into the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has announced sanctions against five figures who it says are involved in the financial networks of Hamas and another militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The combined action by the UK and US is the third round of such sanctions imposed on the two groups since the war broke out almost four months ago.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said: “These sanctions send a clear message to Hamas – the UK and our partners are committed to ensuring there is no hiding place for those financing terrorist activities.

The current war between Israel and Hamas is the fifth and by far the deadliest. Credit: AP

“To reach a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza, Hamas can no longer be in power and able to threaten Israel.

“By disrupting the financial networks which sustain Hamas’s operation, including from Iran, these sanctions support that crucial aim.”

The current war between Israel and Hamas, the fifth and by far the deadliest, began when Palestinian militants broke through Israel’s defences and rampaged through several nearby communities, killing some 1,200 people, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel’s offensive has killed at least 25,105 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than 60,000, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Mr Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until “complete victory” over Hamas and to return all of the remaining hostages after more than 100 were released in a ceasefire deal in November in exchange for scores of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The Israeli military says it has killed around 9,000 militants, without providing evidence, and blames the high civilian death toll on Hamas because it positions fighters, tunnels and other militant infrastructure in dense residential areas.

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