For the second time in two days, President Shimon Peres on Friday offered
condolences to Britain for the terrorist attack in Woolwich, east London, in
which 25-ear-old drummer Lee Rigby of Greater Manchester was brutally hacked to
death by terrorists.
On Thursday, Peres wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth
II stating that he was deeply saddened and shocked by the act of horrific
He offered wrote in his own name and in the name of the people
of Israel to the family of the victim and the people of
“Terrorism is a global threat and one the world must face
together,” Peres wrote, adding that he knows that the people of Britain will
stand strong in the face of this threat and assuring the queen that the State of
Israel stands side-by-side with them.
On Friday morning, in the course of
a meeting with visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Peres again
conveyed condolences, emphasizing that Israel knows what terror means “and our
hearts are with you.”
Before getting down to the main focus of their
discussion, which was the resumption of the Middle East peace process, Peres and
Hague traded compliments about each other’s intellect, with Peres telling Hague
that he admired his intellectual depth and his clear position, and Hague
responding that there are few more committed intellectuals in the world than
The president commended Hague for his clear position on Iran and
Syria, and also voiced pleasure at the scientific cooperation and investment
between the two countries.
“Your visit is timely and important,” he told
Hague, who is on a regional visit to Israel, the Palestinian territories and
Jordan. Peres is scheduled to travel to Jordan on Sunday.
Hague said that
there was “a tremendous amount of bilateral work” going on in different fields,
and declared that he was pleased by the extent of academic and scientific
cooperation, especially in the field of regenerative medicine.
plans to do more in nanotechnology, he disclosed.
When the conversation
turned to prospects for peace, Hague told Peres that before the last British
elections, he had told his party that 50 percent of foreign policy would be
dealing with the Middle East, but now with Iran’s nuclear program and the tragic
situation in Syria, 70 percent of British foreign policy deals with the Middle
Conceding that there were still some obstacles to overcome in
reaching an accord with the Palestinians, Peres said: “In spite of the
difficulties, the time is ripe for peace.”
He was optimistic that US
Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative can lead to a breakthrough. Contrary
to what appears in media headlines, Peres said that he could see positive
developments on the Israeli side, the Palestinian side and the Arab side. He
noted that the Arab initiative is a departure from the strategy of war to the
strategy of peace’ which he termed an important thing. He could see that things
are quietly moving, he said.
Hague who also favors the Kerry initiative,
said that Britain’s hope was that support for Kerry and his work would help to
make some decisive moves forward for permanent peace.
While Israel and
Britain are in agreement on a number of regional issues, there are also areas of
In an interview broadcast Friday on Sky News, Hague warned
that the window of opportunity for Israel and the Palestinians to agree to form
a two-state solution was closing fast. He stated that Britain strongly disagrees
with settlements on occupied land, saying that they were “a severe threat” to a
two state solution.