British Foreign Secretary William Hague sharply criticized the current Israeli
government on Tuesday just as the country was going to the polls.
told the UK Parliament that prospects for a twostate solution were almost dead
because of expanding settlement construction, and warned Israel it was losing
“I hope that whatever Israeli government
emerges... that it will recognize that we are approaching the last chance to
bring about such a solution,” Hague said. “I condemn recent Israeli decisions to
expand settlements. I speak regularly to Israeli leaders stressing our profound
concern that Israel’s settlement policy is losing it the support of the
international community and will make a two-state solution
Asked whether the European Union should tie trade with
Israel to progress on peace talks, Hague said the bloc still had work to do, in
conjunction with the United States, to establish “incentives and disincentives”
regarding further negotiations.
“There is a clock ticking with
potentially disastrous consequences for the peace process,” he
Hague claimed 2013 was a crucial year for the moribund peace
process given Israeli elections for a new government and the start of US
President Barack Obama’s second term.
“If we do not make progress in the
coming year, people will increasingly conclude that a two-state solution has
become impossible,” said Hague. Both Israelis and Palestinians should return to
talks without preconditions, he added.
Hague said he would place peace
talks and efforts toward a two-state solution – the basis of a US-backed peace
process for almost 20 years – at the “top of the agenda” during a planned visit
to Washington next week.
One Israeli government official responded by
saying the biggest threat to the two-state solution was not the settlements, but
rather the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to accept the legitimacy of the
“When [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas said at the UN in
November that the creation of Israel in 1948 was one of the major war crimes of
the 20th century, he was saying that the Jewish state was fundamentally
illegitimate,” the official said. “The fact that Europe, where the worst war
crime of the century took place, remained silent was outrageous.”
official said that Israel was committed to a two-state solution, and that “it is
time for the EU leaders to press the Palestinians to return to negotiations