LONDON, Sept – The British Government continues to adhere to its commitment to work for a two state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a UK special envoy for the region reaffirmed Thursday.
In a briefing to a group of Arab journalists at the Foreign Office, in central London, Michael Williams, the UK Special Representative for the Middle East said that Britain is at the forefront of support of the peace process which should lead to an independent viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Williams was speaking before taking up shortly his new post as the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
He will proceed to Lebanon on 6th October for his first visit in his new capacity.
The envoy summed up his 15 month work on behalf of the British Government by saying that he made 21 visits to the region since taking up his job as UK Special Representative for the Middle East.
Williams expressed Britains continued concern over the expansion of Israeli settlements.
He said that the British Government has condemned vigorously the settlement activities, but despite that they have continued apace in violation of the roadmap for peace between Israel and Palestine.
In response to questions, the envoy revealed that Britains Foreign Secretary David Miliband will meet tomorrow in New York on the fringe of the UN General Assembly his Syrian counterpart Walid Mouallem for important discussions on regional issues and in particular Syria-UK relations.
Miliband is also due to hold similar talks with a number of Arab foreign ministers attending the UN session.
Williams said that he expects that there will be bilateral visits between Syria and the UK in the near future, in a move seen by observers as an improvement in relations between Damascus and London.
He hailed the positive progress made in Lebanon following the Doha Accord and the constructive role made by Syria in this connection, including the pledge to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Referring to his new role as the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Williams said that the international organisation has an important supportive role in helping the political process in that Arab country.
He referred to the importance of UN Security Council resolution 1701 which came at the end of the Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
The envoy said that there is no formal ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel despite the cessation of hostilities between them.
In the meantime, Williams was optimistic about resolving the outstanding issues between Tel Aviv and Beirut “as there was no single bullet fired between the two hostile neighbours sincethe passage of resolution 1701”.
Williams was referring in that connection to the dispute over Shbaa farm in southern Lebanon and maintaining the ceasefire between the two sides.