UK Minister for Mideast, N. Africa Alistair Burt 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United Kingdom has taken no option off the table for dealing with Iran’s
nuclear program, a visiting British minister said on Tuesday.
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Iranian nuclear program “the major issue at the top of our shared agenda,”
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said the program was
“clearly not intended for purely peaceful purposes” and vowed that the UK would
pursue tougher sanctions in an attempt to derail Tehran’s drive for the
Speaking at Bar-Ilan University’s Feldman International Conference
Center, Burt said Iran “does not just threaten Israel, it threatens those who
would be Israel’s allies in the Gulf and in the Arab world who need Israel as a
partner in a common cause against a regime dangerously loose.”
emphasized the importance of Israel reaching a diplomatic breakthrough with the
Palestinians, arguing that the current situation could not continue.
must be clear to the leaders on both sides that the current situation is
untenable; the status quo cannot continue, or else it will leave an indelible
mark on two great people with enormous potential,” he said.
Burt spoke of
visiting the Kalandiya checkpoint to watch how IDF security measures affected
Palestinians’ daily lives, as well as the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where
“the effects of the [West Bank security] barrier and the nearby settlement
construction are having a detrimental and tragic effect on the lives of the
He also related to matters elsewhere in the Middle East,
particularly in light of the Arab Spring – an event especially relevant to his
ministry last year. Burt said he understood Israeli fears about the uncertainty
of the changing Middle East, but argued that such drastic change highlighted the
need for Israel and the Palestinians to take bold steps for peace.
you want stability, if you want security, if you want peace with your neighbors,
and the best relations with the rest of the world, then making a peace deal with
the Palestinians is urgent. Putting certainty into a region of uncertainty may
be the best thing to do,” he said.
He mentioned that there were those in
the UK who “delegitimized” Israel, but argued that they were not the population
that Israelis needed to worry about; rather, he said, Israel should focus most
heavily on those in the center of the British body politic.
“The ones you
need to worry about are the ones in the mainstream and the center ground; the
ones who used to stand up and support Israel but now stay silent,” he said. “Or
the ones who used to be silent but are now critical. Because opinion is
shifting [on Israel].”
Burt asserted that such actions were directly
related to Israeli actions, saying that “as long as Israel builds across the
Green Line, Israel risks losing friends.”
He also referred to the country
as a world leader in innovation and research and praised its values and
He did, however, add the caveat that “it’s these values that
are the best guarantee of Israel’s place in the world, and any corrosion of
these values would weaken Israel’s place in the world.”