Singapore calls for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday urged Israel to resume direct negotiations with Palestine.

Loong said this when he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of a two-day visit to the city-state.

“We have consistently believed that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, however hard to achieve is the only way to bring peace and security to both peoples,’’ Lee said.

The statement comes a day after former U.S. officials confirmed Netanyahu had turned down a regional peace deal led by then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016.

Netanyahu’s visit to Singapore, confirmed Monday by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the first official one to the city-state by an incumbent Israeli prime minister since the mid-1980s.

It comes on the heels of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump last week.

Netanyahu will be received at the Istana, the official residence and office of Singapore’s president.

Netanyahu will also meet with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, the ministry said.

Lee will host an official dinner for Netanyahu at the Istana, while Deputy Prime Minister and National Security Coordinating Minister Teo Chee Hean will host a lunch for the Israeli premier.

While in Singapore, Netanyahu is expected to visit public housing estates to learn more about Singapore’s housing policies, according to Channel NewsAsia.

Singapore and Israel share deep bilateral ties, especially in economic development, military cooperation and trade.

Israel assisted Singapore in developing its military shortly after the city-state gained independence in 1965.

When Israel’s then-president, Chaim Herzog, visited Singapore in 1986, protests broke out in neighbouring Muslim-majority countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Following his visit to Singapore, Netanyahu will travel on to Australia, according to a statement from the office of the Australian prime minister.