Theresa May urged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back fresh Iran sanctions

'Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation,' said the Israeli Prime Minister

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 06 February 2017 14:59 GMT
Benjamin Netanyahu urges Theresa May to back fresh sanctions for Iran

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Theresa May has been urged by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pledge her support for renewed sanctions against Iran after the country test-fired a ballistic missile.

Mr Netanyah’s comments that Iran’s aggression cannot go unanswered came before he entered Downing Street for his first bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister.

Last week Iran confirmed it carried out the ballistic test but insisted it did not violate the landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers. Hossein Dehghan, the Iranian defence minister, said at the time: “The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defence affairs."

Mr Netanyahu took the unusual step of using the so-called "warm words" in front of the cameras, ahead of the formal discussions, to make clear he wants to see Britain take action against Iran.

"We face challenges, that's very clear, from militant Islam and especially from Iran,” he said.

"Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation.

"That's why I welcome (US) President Trump's assistance of new sanctions against Iran, I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations.

"And I'd like to talk to you about how we can ensure that Iran's aggression does not go unanswered."

Before the meeting between the two Prime Ministers began, however, there was an awkward moment due to the early arrival of Mr Netanyahu at Downing Street. He arrived two minutes before schedule and Ms May failed to meet him outside the door of Number 10, leaving him in the street for around 15 seconds before he entered alone.

But the pair emerged around two minutes later to shake hands in front of the assembled media from Britain and Israel. Downing Street said Ms May had planned to meet him outside but his slightly early arrival and a mix-up inside Number 10 meant the photo opportunity did not progress as planned.

The Prime Minister is also under pressure to raise the issue of Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land – something Britain has long opposed.

However Jeremy Corbyn said that was "simply not good enough" and called on the Prime Minister to stand up for Palestinian rights in her meeting with Mr Netanyahu.

Speaking ahead of the visit the Labour leader said: "When Theresa May meets the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tomorrow, she has let it be known she will tell him that building settlements on occupied Palestinian land “undermines trust”.

"That is simply not good enough. The Israeli government’s decision to build 3,000 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal under international law and a threat to peace and international security.

"It undermines still further the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, about which the Netanyahu government is increasingly contemptuous.

"Fifty years after the United Nations demanded Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in the 1967 war and 70 years after the UN voted for the creation of a Palestinian state, the British government must act in support of peace and justice in the Middle East conflict.

"Theresa May must make clear to the Israeli Prime Minister that the British government will stand unequivocally behind the rights of the Palestinian people, along with the many who support them in Israel, as well as human rights and justice across the region.

"She must also demand an assurance from the Israeli Prime Minister that the improper interference by the Israeli embassy in British democratic politics exposed last month will not be repeated."

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