Mark Twain rose from his sick-bed to say that reports of his death were “premature”, but reports that the two-state solution is sick or dying are surely verging on the posthumous.
Having warned of its imminent demise several times already, William Hague said at Foreign Office questions (Tuesday January 22nd) that the two-state solution is “slipping away”.
“The chances of bringing it about are not yet at an end, but it is very urgent…We are approaching the last chance of bringing about such a solution,” he told Ming Campbell.
Speaking on the day of the Israeli election, he put the blame squarely on Israel’s leaders. “I condemn recent Israeli decisions to expand settlements. I speak regularly to Israeli leaders, stressing our profound concern that Israel’s settlement policy is losing it the support of the international community and will make a two-state solution impossible”, he told Gregg McClymont.
In response to questions from Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, he said it was “top of my agenda” for talks in Washington next week when he would try to persuade the new US Secretary of State that it would be “the single highest priority in American foreign policy, even with all the other challenges we face in the world today”.
Mr Hague made it clear he believes 2013 is the make-lor-break year for the peace process, but added that “it requires the United States to take the lead. That is not because other countries like us are not willing to play our own active part, but because the United States is in a unique position in the world to help bring Israel into a two-state solution.”
But three Labour MPs suggested an “active part” that the UK could and should be willing to play by joining with others to put economic pressure on Israel to stop settlement building.
Shadow Middle East Minister Ian Lucas said he should discuss with our European partners how to “use the wish for Israeli to develop stronger trading relations with the European Union as a means of achieving progress in the Middle East”.
Co-chairman of the Council for Arab-British Understanding CAABU and Labour MP for Edmonton Andy Love urged him to keep his promise to discuss “incentives” for a return to negotiations with his EU partners.
And Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester Gorton, asked “what specific action the Government will take to get the Israelis to see that their future survival depends on a two-state solution?”
Duncan Hames, Liberal Democrat MP for Chippenham, asked the Foreign Secretary about the consequences for the peace process of an Israeli announcement last week that it would extend the 10-metre concrete separation wall to surround planning area E1 in the West Bank, scene of Palestinian tent “settlement” in protest at plans to build a new illegal settlement.
“Any prospect of building in the E1 area, would be extremely damaging to the prospect for a successful peace proces,” he said.
“That is why it is so urgent. Now that the planning process for the E1 area has been unfrozen, a clock is ticking, with potentially disastrous consequences for the peace process.”