Cameron Cancels Israel Visit to Deal with British Floods
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday he was cancelling a planned trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) next week to deal with devastating floods in England, AFP reported.
Cameron was due to make the trip on February 18 and 19 although it had not officially been announced for security reasons.
At a press conference about the floods that have affected huge swathes of southern England, the prime minister said he would continue to take personal command of the crisis.
"I will continue to lead the national response by chairing meetings of the government's emergency committee, Cobra. I'm cancelling my visit to the Middle East next week," he told reporters.
"I'm sending my apologies today to Prime Minister (Binyamin) Netanyahu and President (Mahmoud) Abbas, but nothing is more important than dealing with these floods," Cameron said, according to AFP.
It would have been Cameron's first visit to Israel since he was elected in 2010, although the Conservative leader did visit while he was in opposition.
Reports of Cameron’s visit first appeared in early January, when it was also reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Israel as well, part of an international push for Israel to sign a peace agreement with the PA.
Merkel’s visit has since been confirmed, and her spokesman announced that it will take place February 24 and 25.
On Monday it was reported that Cameron had accepted the invitation of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to address the Knesset during his visit.
There have been tensions between Israel and Europe recently, as the European Union (EU) published new guidelines which boycott Israeli entities operating beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.
The EU has also been critical of Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Last week, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton demanded Israel take back its announced plans to build over 700 housing units in its capital city.
On Tuesday, however, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, rejected boycotts of the Jewish state, saying, “My personal view is that a boycott is not a solution for anything.”