Leading article: A message designed to be heard

Share
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

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Let's make Eid a bank holiday

Grace Dent
Tulisa Contostavlos arrives to face drug charges at Southwark Crown Court on July 14, 2014  

Tulisa might have been attacked for being working class, but she still has to take some responsibility

Chloe Hamilton
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried