Shapps rebukes Netanyahu’s ‘disappointing’ opposition to Palestinian state

Shapps rebukes Netanyahu’s ‘disappointing’ opposition to Palestinian state

Grant Shapps has described Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state as “disappointing”, saying the UK is “wedded” to the idea.

The Defence Secretary said there “isn’t another option” other than a two-state solution.

It came after the Israeli prime minister doubled down on his rejection of Palestinian sovereignty as part of any post-war plan, saying his country needs full security control over the Palestinian territories.

Mr Netanyahu’s remarks deepened a public rift with the US, which has argued a two-state solution is essential for long-term stability.

Mr Shapps on Sunday backed the US view, saying there is no other solution to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

He told Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “I think it’s disappointing to hear Benjamin Netanyahu saying he doesn’t believe in a two-state solution. In fairness, he’s said that all of his political career, as far as I can tell.

“I don’t think we get to a solution unless we have a two-state solution.

The Cabinet minister added the UK “certainly remains wedded to that,” “so we do disagree on that particular issue.”

Benjamin Netanyahu visits the UK
Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Joe Biden for the first time in nearly a month about differences over a future Palestinian state (Aaron Chown/PA)

But Mr Shapps also stressed the UK’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself following Hamas’s deadly October 7 attacks.

On the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, he said: “Palestinians deserve a sovereign state. Israel deserves to have the full ability to defend itself, its own security.

“Now, you’ll get a lot of different views within the Israeli government, of course, it is a rainbow coalition.

“So we very much distinguish between the views of individuals and our overall support for Israel as a country.”

Mr Netanyahu wrote on X 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.”

It came in defiance of US President Joe Biden, who hours earlier had voiced hope that a two-state solution was still possible even while Mr Netanyahu remains in office, following a call with the Israeli leader.

Mr Biden had said Mr Netanyahu was not opposed to all two-state solutions, and there were a number of possible ideas.

But in a statement, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Mr Netanyahu told Mr Biden that “after Hamas is destroyed, Israel must retain security control over Gaza to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, a requirement that contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty”.

Labour has also rebuked Mr Netanyahu’s position.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper on Sunday echoed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy in saying: “Those words from Netanyahu were completely unacceptable.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said statehood ‘is the right of the Palestinian people’ (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

“Statehood of a people is not in the gift of its neighbour, it is the right of a people and it is the right of the Palestinian people.”

Mr Lammy on Saturday said Mr Netanyahu’s stance would mean “occupation and siege continues” in Gaza, where the Palestinian death toll is now above 25,000, according to local health authorities.

Mr Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the offensive in Gaza for many months despite mounting pressure on Israel to rein in its military action as the scale of death and destruction intensifies.

The White House earlier this week announced it was the “right time” for Israel to lower the intensity of its military action in Gaza.

Israel launched the offensive after an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, in which 1,200 people were killed and some 240 others taken hostage.

Roughly 130 hostages are believed by Israel to remain in Hamas captivity.

Israel’s assault on Gaza has been one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history.