‘Hamas must be removed from Gaza leadership’


Foreign Secretary David Cameron challenges Arab states to accept that the Hamas military leadership responsible for the attack on 7 October must leave Gaza…reports Asian Lite News

David Cameron has urged Hamas to agree to a deal for a sustained 40-day ceasefire in Gaza and the release of potentially thousands of hostages and prisoners.

The foreign secretary also challenged Arab states to accept that the Hamas military leadership responsible for the attack on 7 October must leave Gaza.

Speaking at a World Economic Forum event in Riyadh, he echoed the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, saying: “I hope Hamas do take this deal and, frankly, all the pressure in the world and all the eyes in the world should be on them today saying ‘take that deal’, accept the generosity of the offer of a ceasefire that has been negotiated with Israel.”

He added that for a “political horizon for a two-state solution”, with an independent Palestine co-existing with Israel, the “people responsible for October 7, the Hamas leadership, would have to leave Gaza and you’ve got to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza”.

By contrast, three Arab foreign ministers speaking at the same forum presented Hamas as an idea born out of a legitimate struggle for a Palestinian state, but suggested the group’s influence would fade if a path to the establishment of that state was set out.

The Saudi foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, also insisted there would be no normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia unless there was “a credible and irreversible path to a Palestinian state”.

Cameron was in Riyadh to hold talks with both western and Arab leaders on the progress of the hostage talks, and an as yet unpublished Arab plan for the administration of Gaza and the West Bank if a ceasefire is agreed. He said: “Hamas was an extremist organisation that believes in a very extremist interpretation of Islam and a particularly violent one as well.”

Cameron said peace and stability in the Middle East was unobtainable “unless you deal with the question of the future for the Palestinian people”, but added: “I don’t think we should be naive and think that all the problems will be solved if that were to happen.”

He claimed there was a variety of conflicts in the Middle East, “including a conflict within Islam between those who want to see Islam as a religion of peace that can exist in all sorts of different states, but in a stable way, and those who have an extremist version of Islam”.

“I don’t believe, even if there was a Palestinian state created tomorrow, that Iran and its leaders would say, ‘Well, that’s all fine, now it’s all sorted.’”

He said: “Iran believes fundamentally in the destruction of Israel as a state, and Iran, through its support for Hamas in Gaza, through its support of the Houthis in Yemen, through its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, is a force of malign activity in this region, which is deeply destabilising, deeply troubling. We do need to have a tougher, more deterrent approach right across the board to what Iran has been doing.”

The former prime minister also said there needed to be “a change of thinking in Israel about the fact they should support a two-state solution, because it’s fundamentally in their long-term interest, but it also requires a change of thought amongst Palestinians and others about the nature of the future relationship with Israel”.

He accepted it was going to be very hard to persuade Israel that its security rested on a two-state solution, but said it was hugely helpful that Saudi Arabia was looking at normalising relations with Israel as part of a political solution where the Palestinians would have the prospect of a Palestinian state. Saudi Arabia is seeking more bankable assurances about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution before it will normalise relations.

The Saudi foreign minister said the bilateral work on a deal with the US was “very very close; we have the broad outlines of what we need to happen”. He said it might take 15 years to remove the rubble from Gaza and 30 years to reconstruct the strip.

The Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said: “Israel is run by a prime minister that is driven by an ideology that does not believe in a two-state solution,” adding that this represented a challenge for the international community, which had so far paid lip service to a Palestinian state, but taken no real action to stop Israeli settlements and land grabs.

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