Boris Johnson urges Palestinians to engage with Trump's controversial Middle East peace plan

Andrew Woodcock
Boris Johnson speaking into Commons on 29 January 2020, Parliament TV: Parliament tv

Boris Johnson has urged the Palestinian leadership to engage with US president Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East.

The prime minister told Mr Trump in a phone call on Tuesday that his controversial plan - which has been endorsed by Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu but roundly condemned by Palestinians - “could prove a positive step forwards” for the region.

But at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, he was told by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that Trump’s blueprint was “not a peace plan” and would deny Palestinian people their rights.

Mr Corbyn called on the PM to tell US secretary of state Mike Pompeo “frankly and candidly”, in meetings in London over the next two days, that the UK would not support the Trump plan and would continue to insist on an internationally-supported two-state solution.

Mr Johnson stopped short of giving his endorsement to the Trump plan, but said Palestinians should be ready to engage with his ideas.

“No peace plan is perfect, but this has the merit of a two-state solution,” said the PM. “It is a two-state solution. It would ensure that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people.”

Mr Johnson called on the Labour leader to “reach out to his friends - our friends, my friends - in the Palestinian Authority, to Mahmoud Abbas, for whom I have the highest respect, and urge him for once to engage with this initiative, to get talking rather than to leave a political vacuum.”

But Mr Corbyn told him: “President Trump’s latest Middle East peace plan is not a peace plan. It will annexe Palestinian territory, lock in illegal Israeli colonisation, transfer Palestinian citizens of Israel and deny Palestinian people their fundamental rights.”

Mr Johnson and foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who meets Pompeo later today, should make clear to the US secretary of state that “the British government will stand for a genuine, internationally backed peace plan, rather than this stuff proposed by Trump yesterday,” said Mr Corbyn.

“President Trump’s plan will not bring any move towards peace, has no support from any Palestinian anywhere in the world.

“Maybe this would be a good opportunity for the British government to say frankly and candidly to the US ‘On this, you are wrong. There needs to be a two-state solution with international support’.”