Starmer tells Netanyahu he ‘looks forward to further deepening close relationship’

Prime Minister Keir Stamer phoned Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning and told him “he looked forward to further deepening the close relationship between the two countries.”

According to a government statement, the leaders discussed the importance of regional security in the Middle East, and the Prime Minister said he was committed to continuing the UK and Israel’s vital cooperation to deter malign threats.

The Prime Minister said the situation on northern border of Israel was very concerning, and it was crucial all parties acted with caution.

Turning to the conflict in Gaza, the Prime Minister reiterated his condolences for the tragic loss of life following the October attacks. He then set out the clear and urgent need for a ceasefire, the return of hostages and an immediate increase in the volume of humanitarian aid reaching civilians.

He added that it was also important to ensure the long-term conditions for a two-state solution were in place, including ensuring the Palestinian Authority had the financial means to operate effectively.

The leaders agreed to stay in close touch.

Starmer also spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to a separate statement.

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“The Prime Minister updated President Abbas on his immediate priorities, including securing a ceasefire, the return of hostages, an increase and acceleration in humanitarian aid, and financial support for the Palestinian Authority,” the statement said.

“Discussing the importance of reform, and ensuring international legitimacy for Palestine, the Prime Minister said that his longstanding policy on recognition to contribute to a peace process had not changed, and it was the undeniable right of Palestinians,” the readout added.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023.

Besides the 38,000 Palestinian casualties, the military campaign has turned much of the enclave of 2.3 million people into ruins, leaving most civilians homeless and at risk of famine.

Efforts for a permanent cease-fire after a brief truce in November have not borne fruit.

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