The two leaders celebrated the thriving UK-Israel relationship on the 70th year of Israel’s birth.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “It’s always a delight to visit with you and speak with you about issues of common concern. I have to say that our relationship in this year, the 70th year of Israel’s birth, is excellent. We cooperate in great ways – in intelligence, in security, in technology, in trade, in many, many other areas. And I think our relationship is going from strength to strength”.
He underlined two issues that he wanted to discuss: “The first is how to make sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. And the second is how to roll back Iran’s aggression in the region, and specifically in Syria. And I think we can find ways to work together to achieve both goals”.
Mr Netanyahu said that concerning Gaza, “the problems there are rooted in the fundamental goal of Hamas to destroy Israel”. He added: “We’re not witnessing peaceful protests. In addition to burning our fields, these people are being paid for and pushed by Hamas to try to break into Israel’s defences, kill as many Israelis as they can, right next to our border, and kidnap our soldiers”.
He emphasised: “We are doing everything we can to both minimize casualties, and at the same time protect Israeli lives. I think you recognize this. It’s a new technique, it’s a tactic of terrorists who attack civilian targets and hide behind civilians, or in this case use civilians as human shields. I think we should condemn it, and discuss ways how we can prevent this”.
Regarding the living conditions of people in Gaza, he said: “It’s also true that the reason Gaza is in an economic and humanitarian crisis is because: One, Hamas diverts an enormous amount of resources from civilian needs to terror tunnels and other weapons of war; and secondly, the other part of Palestinian society, the Palestinian Authority has cut back the money – a combination of choking Gaza financially from one Palestinian side and diverting resources for terrorism on the other side has created an economic crisis”.
Mr Netanyahu recognised that “I’m talking to another democracy that is often challenged and often has to face these kinds of terrorist provocations”.
Click here to read Netanyahu’s statement in full.
Following the meeting, a spokesperson from 10 Downing Street said that Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated the UK’s “firm commitment” to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)”.
The statement said that the two leaders “agreed on the need to counter Iran’s destabilising activity in the region, including in Syria, and Iran’s proliferation of ballistic missiles”.
Prime Minister May told Prime Minister Netanyahu that she was “deeply concerned by recent rocket attacks from Gaza and, as a friend of Israel, reiterated the UK’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence”.
The statement added: “She said the Palestinians had a right to protest but it was important that these protests be peaceful. She said there was, however, concern about the scale of casualties in Gaza in recent weeks, and around Israel’s use of live fire”.
It concluded: “The Prime Minister noted the importance of seeing the situation in Gaza swiftly alleviated and parties moving back towards direct negotiations for a two-state solution”.
Click here to read the full statement from Number 10.
After the meeting at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
On Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu embarked on three days of visits to Berlin, Paris, and London.