In the first ever Knesset address by a British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown on Monday hailed Israel’s successes in the 60 years since its establishment as the manifestation of ‘boundless capacity of mind and spirit.’

Brown pledged in his speech to stand by Israel and condemn threats against the country by Iran.

Prime Minister Brown arrived in the region on Saturday for a three day visit. Brown arrived in West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday morning, where he and Abbas held a press conference at the presidential palace in the city. Gordon then visited the Church of the Nativity before proceeding to the Intercontinental Hotel for the business meeting.

In his speech, Brown praised the business meeting and announced the Palestinian-British Business Conference in London. “You are making history. You have agreed to have a Palestinian-British Business Conference in London,” Brown said. After the meeting, Brown headed to meet with Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert on Sunday.

In a press conference that they held together, Brown said that a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal is near, pointing to an urgent need for justice. Brown criticized Israel for its ongoing settlement expansion, however, Olmert asked him to understand Israel’s need to build settlements.