British Deputy PM: Israeli Settlements Are “Deliberate Vandalism”
Nick Clegg, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, welcomed Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas to London for high level meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Before the meetings, Clegg and Abbas held a joint press conference, where the Deputy PM condemned Israeli settlement building and went further, calling it vandalism.
Following his statement condemning “settlement building in the strongest possible terms”, Clegg said, “once you’ve placed physical facts on the ground that make it impossible to deliver something that everyone has for years agreed is the ultimate destination [peace via a two-state solution] … it is an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years. And that is why we have expressed our concerns as a government.”
British officials have not been shy in the past on the issue of Israeli settlement building, with Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, calling December plans to increase housing by 130 units a “provocative and deeply counter-productive step, the latest in a series by the Israeli authorities.”
The Jewish Chronicle reports Clegg added, “I have to tell you that the absence of progress towards peace, together with the almost weekly announcements of this tender or that planning permission for new building, has a real effect on how the world sees Israel.”
Alan Mendoza, executive director of the non-partisan London based organization, Henry Jackson Society, told the Algemeiner that “Deputy Prime Minister Clegg’s concern that settlements in the West Bank undermine a two state-solution represents a fantasy worldview which makes no effort to highlight the ways in which the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue to undermine that solution themselves. Hamas continues to adopt an anti-Semitic charter that calls for the extinction of the Jewish state in the Middle East, and the PA continues to advocate, via its print and broadcast media, maximalist fantasies about a Palestinian state that encompasses all of Israel.”
Following Clegg’s remarks, Mahmoud Abbas, who is in London this week prior to peace negotiations with Israel in Amman, noted regarding the comments that they were “exactly what we had waited to hear officially,” according to the Jewish Chronicle.