UK Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon William Hague MP visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories on Thursday as part of a regional visit that included Jordan and Israel. The visit was aimed at supporting Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts to re-launch the Middle East peace process and at strengthening the relationship between the British and Palestinian peoples.
The Foreign Secretary met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his office in Ramallah. Foreign Secretary Hague and President Abbas discussed the un-sustainability of the situation on the ground in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and explored in detail the prospects for a return to serious, credible peace negotiations with Israel to achieve a secure Israel living alongside a viable Palestinian state.
Earlier that day, the Foreign Secretary visited a lookout point overseeing the area known as “E1” where he was briefed on the strategic impact of Israeli settlement construction on the viability of the two-state solution.
Mr Hague also visited Khan Al Ahmar, a Bedouin community located in the “E1” area, where he met with its representatives. He heard from them about the impact of the Israeli occupation on vulnerable Palestinian communities, including the threat of house demolition and the issue of settler violence.
Following his meetings, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
I have said many times in recent months that there is no more urgent global priority than the search for the Middle East Peace. The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, as I have seen for myself today: the expansion of settlements, which are illegal under international law, continues to be a grave concern. Listening to the personal stories of the people of Khan Al Ahmar brought home to me the vulnerability of Palestinian communities and the urgency of making progress.
In my meeting today with President Abbas I stressed my support for his and Secretary Kerry’s efforts to re-launch the peace process. I set out Britain’s vision, which is well known: a two state solution, a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a viable State of Palestine, based on 1967 borders plus agreed land swaps, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. There must be a just, fair and agreed resolution of the refugee question. Gaza must be an integral part of the Palestinian state.
Courage and bold leadership on all sides are now needed. Britain is ready to play its part.