Starmer: Palestinian state ‘undeniable right’ as part of peace process

Recognition of the state of Palestine as part of a Middle East peace process is an “undeniable right”, Sir Keir Starmer told Mahmoud Abbas.

The Prime Minister spoke to the Palestinian president on Sunday about the “ongoing suffering and devastating loss of life” in Gaza.

Sir Keir also spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, setting out the “clear and urgent” need for a ceasefire and the return of the hostages snatched by Hamas in the October 7 attacks.

Labour’s election manifesto committed the party to recognising a Palestinian state as part of a process that results in a two-state solution alongside Israel.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister said he was pleased to be able to speak to President Abbas so early in his tenure, given the pressing issues in the region, ongoing suffering, and devastating loss of life in Gaza.

“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.

“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.”

Israeli Prime Minister visits UK
Sir Keir Starmer spoke to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In his call with Mr Netanyahu, the Prime Minister “reiterated his condolences for the tragic loss of life following the October attacks” and 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.”

Sir Keir also said the situation on the northern border of Israel, where exchanges of fire with Lebanon-based Hezbollah have been taking place, was “very concerning” and it was “crucial all parties acted with caution”.

Sir Keir Starmer’s tour of the UK
Pro-Palestinian protesters as the car convoy carrying Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer left Bute House in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Labour’s position on Gaza and its initial refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire cost the party votes and seats despite its general election landslide.

Frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth was unseated by an independent in Leicester South in part because of the party’s stance on the issue.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland on Sunday, pro-Palestinian protesters lined the streets outside Bute House in anticipation of his arrival.