RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday met with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
According to Palestine’s official WAFA news agency, Abbas briefed Johnson on “recent developments in the Palestinian territories”.
The Palestinian president, the news agency reported, “also reiterated the illegality of [Israeli] settlement-building” in the occupied West Bank.
“Israel must stop its incursions, arrests and assassinations against the Palestinian people if it wants to give the political process a chance,” the news agency quoted Abbas as telling the visiting British official.
Johnson, for his part, reportedly reaffirmed his country’s support for a “two-state solution” to the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict, stressing the “illegality” of Israeli settlement construction on occupied Arab land.
Earlier Wednesday, Johnson met with Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki, to whom he reportedly said: “The Palestinians and Israelis should sit together to find a solution to the conflict.”
“Britain will not impose itself on them, but would support them if they decided to sit down together,” the foreign secretary said at a subsequent joint press conference.
“The Israeli people need to feel they can live in security without fear of terrorism and violence,” he asserted.
“But,” he went on, “it’s vital too that obstacles — such as the accelerating pace of settlement building, the accelerating pace of [home] demolitions — are also the barriers in the path of a two-state solution.”
He added: “We have to work to remove those barriers.”
Johnson arrived in the region on Tuesday for an official visit to Israel and Palestine.
Later this evening, he is slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he is expected to discuss the Palestine file and other regional issues.
In November 2015 as Mayor of London made controversial statements agains the Palestinians leading to youth groups cancelling meeting with Boris Johnson.
Johnson criticised calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, describing the BDS campaign as “completely crazy” and promoted by a “few lefty academics” in corduroy jackets pursuing a cause.
Sharek Youth Forum cancelled meeting with Boris as he “fails to acknowledge our very existence as Palestinians”.
“Following Johnson’s inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful statement regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on 9 November, stating that he ‘cannot think of anything more foolish’, it is our conclusion, supported by the Palestinian youth that we represent, he consciously denies the reality of the occupation that continues to oppress them and all Palestinians.
“As Palestinians and supporters of BDS, we cannot in good conscience host Johnson, as a person who denounces the international BDS movement and prioritises the feelings of wearers of ‘corduroy jackets’ over an entire nation under occupation.
“In Johnson’s own words, the ‘only democracy in the region … a pluralist, open society’ is one that oppresses citizens, confiscates land, demolishes homes, detains children and violates international humanitarian and human rights law on a daily basis.”
Palestine Women’s Business Forum also had called of the meeting with the mayor.
Additional report from The Muslim News
[Photo: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ramallah, West Bank on March 8, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Issam Rimawi/AA]