Israel has lost support in Britain and other European countries over time due to settlement activities, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an interview with Sky News published Friday.
Hague, who met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday during a visit to Israel, made the comments in response to an interview in which Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz questioned Britain's friendship with Israel.
"Traditionally we had good relations with Britain and currently we have good intelligence cooperation with Britain and it's very successful," Steinitz told The Daily Telegraph
. He added that Israel was "concerned about the relations," citing some animosity and incitement in the British media and among NGOs against Israel.
Steinitz questioned why support of Israel among the British public is "much less" than in the other Anglo Saxon democracies the US, Canada and Australia. "When you think that all four are Anglo-Saxon democracies, why should people in America, Australia or Canada have different relations to or appreciations of the minuscule Jewish state than the people of Britain," the minister queried, adding that this difference may be reflected in the British Foreign Office and British government policy.
In response, Hague told Sky News that "Israel has lost some of its support in Britain and in other European countries over time - this is something I've often pointed out to Israeli leaders - because of settlement activity, which we condemn."
The British foreign secretary added, "We strongly disagree with settlements on occupied land. Israel is a country we work with in many ways but we do disapprove of settlements."
Prior to his meeting with Netanyahu on Thursday, Hague called on Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to advance the peace process.
"We urge all parties to move the process forward and to really give the bold and decisive leadership that will allow success to happen and avoid steps that undermine it.”