LONDON (JTA) — The prime ministers of Israel and Britain met in London and agreed on the need for progress in the Mideast peace process.
During their hourlong meeting Tuesday at 10 Downing Street, Benjamin Netanyahu and Gordon Brown also discussed the importance of acting to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons.
In the issue of West Bank Jewish settlements there was some disagreement. Brown said his government sees building in the settlements as an obstacle to the idea of two states for two people. While Netanyahu has not approved any new settlement construction since coming into office, he says settlements should be allowed to expand for "natural growth."
Netanyahu also made a clear distinction between building in eastern Jerusalem and in other areas of the West Bank. “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” Netanyahu said at a joint news conference following the meeting. "We’ve been building there for 3,000 years.”
Netanyahu outlined his plan for peace with the Palestinians on the basis of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel, and Brown endorsed Netanyahu’s call for action to build the Palestinian economy. Netanyahu said he wants to see a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem “once and for all,” explaining that he sees the solution within the Palestinian state, so that Israel will remain a Jewish state.
Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu demonstrators gathered outside the gates to the prime minister’s official residence, forcing Netanyahu’s motorcade to enter through a side entrance. The demonstrators held signs saying “Free Gaza” and referring to Netanyahu as a “war criminal.”