UK: Direct talks best way to achieve Mideast peace

British Foreign Office minister says UK won't recognize Palestinian state before peace deal; warns of increasing Israeli isolation.

Alistair Burt 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Alistair Burt 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
AMMAN, Jordan — A British Foreign Office minister said only direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations can achieve peace.
Alistair Burt acknowledged direct talks that began in September and collapsed soon after might be difficult to revive now.
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Nonetheless, Burt told reporters after meetings with Jordanian officials that direct negotiations are "most likely" to result in Palestinian statehood and guarantee Israel's security.
In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Burt mentioned that if negotiations are not renewed with the Palestinians, "Israel may find itself isolated, also from a European standpoint".
"There is a concern that Israel's isolation is increasing and you can not rule this out," Burt, who is currently visiting the region, said.
Wrapping up a Mideast tour that included stops in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Burt said Thursday that Britain would not recognize a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel.
He said a unilateral Palestinian declaration would mean ambiguity on crucial issues like the capital of the state, its borders and the fate of refugees.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with Burt on Tuesday, when the two discussed efforts to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The UK minister also updated Lieberman on the progress of the amendment on universal jurisdiction.
Burt briefed Minister Lieberman on his visit to Nazareth the previous day on the concerns raised by the Arab community leaders he met there, and they discussed the importance of the proper treatment of Israel's minorities.
In addition, they had a detailed discussion on the wide-ranging areas of co-operation between the UK and Israel, including bilateral trade and investment.