British Foreign Secretary William Hague said today that his government’s belief in Israel’s right to exist was not up for “discussion or compromise.”
“Britain, this British government and this foreign secretary will stand for a secure future for Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, alongside of course a viable and sovereign Palestinian state,” Hague told a London conference marking 60 years of British-Israeli diplomatic ties.
“Britain’s support for Israel was there at the very start. We are steadfast in our support for it today. Our belief in Israel’s right to exist is not an issue of discussion or compromise.”
The British government is “firmly opposed” to any body that seeks to delegitimize or Israel or boycott it as a method of protest, Hague added.
The foreign secretary vowed that Britain would “continue to stand up” for Israel’s right to defend itself, adding that he saw it as “vital that in exercising the right to self- defense, Israel takes every possible step to avoid loss of innocent life.”
Hague cited the recent spate of rocket attacks, the murder of five members of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, and the Jerusalem bombing last week as “forcible” proof of “Israel’s sense of insecurity”.
The foreign secretary said that he did not believe that an interim solution would “suffice” to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. . “There has been talk about whether interim solutions will suffice. Let me be clear that I do not believe they will. Final status issues have to be resolved,” he said.
Touching on the unrest sweeping the Middle East, Hague said he hoped the 57 Arab and Muslim countries that do not recognize Israel reverse their stance – starting with support for the Arab peace initiative.
“Each day without peace exacts a terrible human toll on both Israelis and Palestinians and makes a two state solution harder to achieve,” he said. “If we cannot create a path for legitimate aspirations to be secured through negotiations, then clearly there is a risk of violence and generations of young people seeing little hope for the future and being left vulnerable to radicalisation”
Hague said he hoped the peace process would resume by September. “This is the deadline set by President Obama and the international community. And it is also the moment when we review the program to build the institutions of a Palestinian state that the British government has strongly supported.”
Hague concluded his speech by saying: “I never forget that Israel is a country that has been repeatedly attacked through its brief history, that has been at war with all its neighbors for some of its history and with some of its neighbours for all of its history… I am deeply conscious why the Jewish people – of all peoples – have cause to believe that they must look after themselves, and never rely on others to keep them safe.”
“But it is because of such things that we are such ardent advocates of the two-state solution and of negotiations now – because security will become harder, not easier, to achieve over time,” he added.