British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday said that Hamas should not be allowed to "stifle" democratic actions by Palestinians following the Islamist group's rejection of calls for elections.
During a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London, Hague praised the PA's call last month to hold presidential and legislative elections by September.
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"I welcomed the recent call for Palestinian elections, and I condemn Hamas's rejection of these. Hamas should not be allowed to stifle the democratic expression of Palestinian opinion," Hague said.
Hamas has declared it will not take part in elections without a unity deal with Fatah.
Speaking on the possibility of elections, Abbas said: "We are ready to have legislative and presidential elections and we will leave the ballot boxes to speak for themselves."
During the meeting, Hague also called for a resumption of peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
"The British Government's message today is that the peace process must not become a casualty of uncertainty in the region. It is too important to be allowed to fail or falter. Instead, efforts must be redoubled to move the peace process forward," Hague said.
"I do not underestimate the uncertainty and what it means for those who live with it on their doorstep, above all in Israel which has suffered attack in the past and lived with insecurity for decades," he added.
Hague emphasized the need to commit to negotiations based on clear principles and for the US and Middle East Quartet, comprising of the UN, US, EU and Russia, to set out the parameters.
"We are convinced that there is an inescapable need for both parties to commit to negotiations based on clear principles, and for the United States and the Quartet to set out the parameters for a future settlement.
"In our view such a statement should include 1967 borders with equivalent land swaps, appropriate security arrangements for Israelis and Palestinians, a just, fair and agreed solution for refugees and Jerusalem as the capital of both states, so that urgent negotiations can lead to a framework agreement by September this year as called for by the United States," the foreign secretary said. "And I pay tribute to the leadership of President Obama and the tireless efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Envoy Senator Mitchell."
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday echoed Hague's words
saying, "This is a moment when we should be trying to seize the
opportunity and recognize that the peace process lies at the heart of so
many of the issues in your region and we very strongly support those
talks going ahead."
Abbas said he was committed to achieving peace, but said that settlement building must be frozen.
He also declined to specifically address a question on a deal expected
to be put forward by Israel, which will propose establishing a
Palestinian state in interim borders.
In related news, Britain said Monday it was raising the status of the
Palestinian Authority's London office, though the move fell short of
"Given the extent of our aid to the Palestinian Authority and our work
with them, we will join many other countries in upgrading the status of
the Palestinian delegation to London to the level of a mission," Hague