Don't let talks over two-state solution drift, warns Hague

 

Jerusalem

William Hague has warned the Israelis and Palestinians that the prospect of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict is slipping away and that the region faces a bleak future if the latest US-sponsored push for talks is not capitalised on.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Foreign Secretary conceded that despite four visits to the region in just two months by the US Secretary of State John Kerry there was not yet any substantial progress between the two sides.

“I don’t think we’re a position to say that necessary compromises have already been made, but minds are being concentrated and my advice to all concerned is that unless there is bold leadership to make the most of this opportunity then we face a bleak situation in the Middle East – a truly bleak situation.”

While some influential figures on both sides have expressed optimism that a breakthrough can be found, there has also been a high level of scepticism over whether Mr Kerry’s latest efforts will bear fruit. The Palestinians are especially disenchanted, a point recognised by Mr Kerry – who is also in the region – when he raised the issue of settlement building in the West Bank with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during yesterday.

Describing leaders from both sides as being “intensively engaged” in the discussions, Mr Hague called on them to grasp the latest diplomatic push, warning that it could be the last time the international community invests so much energy and time in the problem.

“It’s very important for this opportunity to be seized by all concerned. It is a moment of opportunity that will not easily recur in terms of the United States putting in tremendous energy into trying to re-start negotiations… There isn’t going to be a moment in American diplomacy [like this again]… so it is very important in weeks, not months, to make the most of this opportunity,” Mr Hague said. “We’re getting nearer now to everyone having to decide whether they’re going to be really serious about this. The moment is quite close.

“It is vital that we now have the bold, decisive leadership to allow this to succeed. I think that the consequences of it not succeeding – for both Israelis and Palestinians – would be very severe. There is a real urgency. The two-state solution is slipping away – it doesn’t have much longer to go. We never like to say that it’s the last attempt at anything – but we’re getting near…”

Despite the renewed international effort to restart the talks between the two sides, who have not met directly since 2010, there appears at this stage to suggest that the two sides are even getting to point where they are even prepared to sit down together.

Asked whether there was a Plan B, should the latest initiative fail, Mr Hague said: “I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate publicly about Plan Bs – except to say there isn’t any Plan B that comes anywhere near to Plan A.”

There are formidable obstacles in the way of any final agreement, not least the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital, and the right of refugees to return to any future Palestinian state.

The international community supports a two-state solution largely based on United Nations Resolution 242, passed in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, which ordered a return to borders that were in place before the conflict. The wording of the resolution requires Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, but it is widely accepted that land swaps would be part of any deal.

Israel is insistent that any  agreement takes account of its security, although there are members of the Israeli cabinet who publicly argue against the existence of a Palestinian state.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR administrator - London - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Office and HR Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Middleweight Designer

£25000 - £26500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The On-Site division of the UK'...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project