Leading article: A message designed to be heard

Related Topics

In its foreign policy so far, the Coalition has managed to spring some welcome surprises. One of these has been a more pragmatic approach to the European Union than might have been expected, given the Eurosceptic noises made by Tories during the election. Now we have William Hague, issuing a very deliberate and very public warning to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, about avoiding "belligerent language" during the present regional ferment. Overt, or even implied, criticism of the Israeli leadership is not something one would associate with a Conservative foreign secretary, and the timing could be seen as little short of inflammatory.

That Israel might take umbrage, however, does not mean that Mr Hague was not right. These are uncertain, and potentially dangerous, times, and the temptation might be for a stable and militarily strong power – such as Israel – to exploit its advantage, in words if not in actual deeds. A consequence, as Mr Hague spelt out, might well be the sidelining, or even loss, of the peace process. He urged Israel to keep its eyes on the central goal – peace with the Palestinians – for its own good and that of the region.

From Mr Hague's very deliberate tone, and the fact that he was speaking in an interview with the BBC, it is clear that what he said was no oversight. He meant it to be heard not just by Israel's leaders, but by all regional players, and by the United States, from whom he demanded "bold leadership". There was also an urgency which suggested two further purposes. First, a desire to articulate the real fear that the time for an Israel-Palestinian agreement may be running out. And, second, a weightier aspect to Mr Hague's five-country mission than simply showing the UK flag.

This might include, for instance, conveying messages on behalf of the EU and the US. France, as the colonial power in the Maghreb, knows the benefits of keeping its distance (as it showed by refusing exile to the ousted president of Tunisia), while there are considerable benefits for President Obama of being able to operate beneath the radar. In his public words to Israel, Mr Hague may have revealed only a part of his hand.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style