London warms to an independent Palestine

Oct. 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM

LONDON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The British government is committed to helping Palestinian leaders create a sovereign state that can exist alongside a secure Israel, a minister said.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt met in London with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat to discuss prospects for a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process.

Burt said his government is committed to Palestinian state-building efforts with the designation of up to $195 million through 2015 "to assist them in creating a sovereign and prosperous Palestinian state living in peace alongside a safe and secure Israel."

Erakat said this month that the Palestinians' bid for non-member status at the United Nations offered a viable option to deter Israeli settlement of the West Bank.

"I expressed the U.K.'s deep concern about developments that threaten our shared goal, in particular continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," said Burt. Bold leadership, he added, was needed from both sides, however.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched a unilateral statehood initiative last year. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization admitted Palestine as a member.

A vote for Palestine's non-member status is scheduled for next month. Israel and the United States have expressed reservations over the initiative.

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