Can David Cameron subdue Lebanon-Israel tensions?

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron is attempting to play a key role in easing tensions in a buoyant Middle East, according to the AFP on February 1. 

Cameron made a surprise comeback to British politics and has been the country’s representative abroad since November, despite not being a parliamentarian, when a Sunak cabinet reshuffle took place. 

The former Prime Minister jetted off to the region late last month. His first stop, Oman where he was welcomed by his counterpart Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi as the pair focused on the troubling situation in Gaza as well as Houthis strikes in the Red Sea. Lord Cameron then visited Qatar, Turkey and Palestine. 

The UK Foreign Office noted on January 30 that, “The Foreign Secretary is returning to the Middle East this week to support efforts towards regional stability. The UK is focused on securing an immediate pause in the conflict in Gaza to allow aid in and hostages out, then making progress towards a sustainable ceasefire.” 

Cameron also addressed the skirmishes at the Lebanon-Israel border, appealing for calm in the area. Recent data found that 210 people have died, mostly Hezbollah fighters, during the clashes since October. 

Since Hamas’ assault on southern Israel, Iran-backed Lebanese militants Hezbollah and Israel have traded blows on an almost daily basis, attracting fears that a war akin to the deadly one in 2006, which lasted a month, is inevitable. 

On February 1, the British official held talks with Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Nijab Mikati in Beirut as the pair discussed ways in which the conflict between the neighbouring countries could be resolved in a diplomatic fashion. 

Mikati’s office confirmed that they spoke about “ways to restore calm in southern Lebanon, as well as the political and diplomatic solutions that are needed,” 

The Lebanese premier said, “Lebanon supports the implementation of international resolutions to the letter, especially Resolution 1701.” 

READ: France warns of tensions between Israel and Lebanon

The longly ignored UN Resolution 1701 has returned to the spotlight as western officials are doing everything in their power to ensure that said resolution is put in place. 

Approved in August 2006, UN Resolution 1701 called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon as was key in stopping the month-long conflict. 

With the war in Ukraine and the Gaza crisis, Cameron has been kept busy since his relatively recent appointment as Foreign Secretary. 

Prior to the ICJ case against Israel, brought up by South Africa, the cabinet minister stressed that he was worried that Israel was committing war crimes in Palestinian territories, notably Gaza. 

Despite this he was not supportive of the genocide case against a British ally in the Middle East, saying it was unhelpful and reiterating that Israel “has a right to defend itself”. 

After Israeli supremo Benjamin Netanyahu recently dismissed calls for a recognition of a Palestinian state, which many will note is a view that he has historically held, Cameron said that the UK were moving to fully recognise the state despite the backlash from some Conservative lawmakers. 

One MP argued that this would be “rewarding Hamas’ atrocities”. 

Downing Street noted that such a recognition would take place, “at a time it best serves the cause of peace” as well as reiterating the British support for a two-state solution. 

The EU, which the United Kingdom is no longer a part of, also pushed for such a recognition and lambasted Netanyahu’s “worrying” remarks. 

AFP/Politico/The Guardian

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