David Cameron
David CameronReuters

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Thursday that his country could officially recognize a Palestinian state after a ceasefire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be years-long talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Cameron was speaking to The Associated Press during a visit to Lebanon. He said that no recognition could come while Hamas remained in Gaza, but that it could take place while Israeli negotiations with Palestinian Arab leaders were continuing.

U.K. recognition of an independent state of Palestine, including in the United Nations, "can't come at the start of the process, but it doesn't have to be the very end of the process," Cameron told AP.

"It could be something that we consider as this process, as this advance to a solution, becomes more real," Cameron said. "What we need to do is give the Palestinian people a horizon towards a better future, the future of having a state of their own."

That prospect is "absolutely vital for the long-term peace and security of the region," he added.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has long urged Britain and other countries to recognize “Palestine” as a means of bypassing direct talks with Israel.

While several European countries have recognized “Palestine” in recent years, those moves were symbolic ones that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.

The issue of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian Arabs has come up again in recent weeks, as talks continue about what the Gaza Strip will look like after the current war.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday that the United States is “actively pursuing” the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel and exploring options with partners in the region.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters last week that Biden is maintaining an “open mind” about what form a two-state solution with Israel would ultimately take.

Kirby added that the President understands “the need for some flexibility" when it comes to the format of an independent Palestinian state and is “under no illusions that how difficult it's going to be to get there, particularly with this conflict going on in Gaza.”