Harsh condemnation from British Deputy PM

Harsh condemnation from British Deputy PM

By Adrian Blomfield, The Telegraph 

 

17.01.12
 
Deputy Prime Minister in Britain gave harsh remarks on Israel's lack of progress in the peace process. Israel is at risk of loosing long standing allies if the country doesn't move forward in negotiations. 
 
The Deputy Prime Minister drew a hostile reaction from Israel by saying the government’s continued construction on internationally recognised Palestinian land was “an act of deliberate vandalism” that undermined the basis of the Middle East peace process.
 
In some of the most critical language ever used by a senior European politician in government, Mr Clegg accused Israel of making the likelihood of a negotiated settlement to the conflict impossible to deliver.
“It is an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years,” Mr Clegg said.
 
He said there was “no stronger supporter of Israel than myself as a beacon of democracy in the region”, but added: “The continued existence of illegal settlements risks making facts on the ground such that a two-state solution becomes unviable.
 
“That, in turn, will do nothing to safeguard the security of Israel itself or of Israeli citizens. That is why I condemn the continued illegal settlement activity in the strongest possible terms.”
 
He was speaking alongside Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who is on a visit to London.
Mr Clegg’s comments reflect growing European impatience with the government Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Israeli prime minister, who is seen by many Western officials as an obstacle to peace because of his refusal to freeze settlement building.
 
But while European and even American government officials regularly criticise Israel’s settlement policies, few have done so quite as bluntly, a fact that will strain the Government’s increasingly tense relations with Mr Netanyahu.
 
“It would be much better to contribute to peace by encouraging the fragile revival of Israeli-Palestinian talks,” the spokesman said.
 
David Cameron, who also met Mr Abbas in Downing Street yesterday, signalled his support for his deputy.
“We think that time, in some ways, is running out for the two-state solution unless we can push forward now, because otherwise the facts on the ground will make it more and more difficult, which is why the settlement issue remains so important,” the Prime Minister said.