Home Page

Window of Opportunity for Two-state Solution Closing, Hague Warns Israel

 By Harriet Sherwood, Guardian

4.11.2010
 
William Hague warned today that the window of opportunity for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was closing and failure by the two parties to reach agreement would be a "serious setback".
 
Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, after visiting Jerusalem's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, the foreign secretary urged Israel to renew its freeze on settlement construction to allow direct talks between the two parties to resume.
 
"There are many important issues, but this is one that has the potential to get direct talks going," he said. The British government wanted Israel to renew the moratorium on building, and he had "made his views clear" to Israeli politicians and officials during his visit, he said.
 
Hague met the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, during his visit.
 
"I am very worried that the window of opportunity is closing. There is real urgency to that," he said. The current talks were the third attempt in a decade to reach a comprehensive settlement and a two-state solution.
 
"If they don't succeed there will be a loss of hope. We must never give up trying, but [to fail] would be a serious setback," Hague said.
 
Direct negotiations began in early September but stalled shortly afterwards when the 10-month partial freeze on construction in settlements expired. The Palestinians insist they cannot negotiate on the boundaries of a future state while Israel continues to build and expand settlements on Palestinian land. All settlements are illegal under international law.
 
Commenting on the swift collapse of the talks, Hague said it had been right to try to get momentum going. "The early session of the talks were held in an atmosphere of great sincerity," he said. "The UK wants to see a fresh moratorium because the prize here is enormous, of long-term peace. The price being asked to get back into those talks ... is well worth paying."