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Cameron says Israel ‘encirclement’ of East Jerusalem ‘shocking’

David Cameron said he is a 'strong friend' of Israel but added it is 'very important' Jerusalem is preserved in the way it has been in the past
UK Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a debate to the Westminster parliament (AFP)

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said Israeli settlement expansion in Occupied East Jerusalem is “genuinely shocking”.

Cameron made the comments while answering a question from Labour MP Imran Hussain at the weekly instalment of Prime Minister’s Questions at the Westminster parliament.

Hussain said he had recently returned from a visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories where he had seen Palestinian families living in the Old City of Jerusalem coming under pressure to move from Israeli settlers.

Hussain asked the prime minister if he agreed that “illegal settlements are a major roadblock hindering peaceful negotiations”.

The Labour MP also asked what the UK is doing to “stop infringement into Palestinian lives and land”.

Cameron replied by saying that while he is “well-known as a strong friend of Israel” his experience of visiting the region had left a profound impact on him.

The prime minister said the first time he visited he was taken on a tour of Occupied East Jerusalem and witnessed the “effective encirclement” of Palestinians by Israeli settlers.

Cameron described the experience as “genuinely shocking” and went on to explain what his government’s policy is towards Israel and settlements on Palestinian land.

“What this government has done and continues to do is say ‘yes, we are supporters of Israel but we do not support illegal settlements and do not support what is happening in East Jerusalem,” he said.

“And it is very important this capital city is maintained in the way it was in the past.”

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the end of the 1967 Six Day War in a move not recognised by the international community.

Since then Israeli authorities have occupied the city and approved increasing numbers of settlements to be built and populated by Israeli Jewish citizens. 

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