Peres, Hague Reinforce Ties Between Israel, UK Despite Tensions
Israeli President Shimon Peres touted ties between his country and the United Kingdom during a meeting Friday with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, despite grumblings about the erosion in the relationship between the two nations.
“I think our relations are in a good shape…” Peres said, adding that “Trade and investment between our two countries is flourishing.”
Hague echoed Peres’s sentiments, stating, “You are right that relations are good. There is a tremendous amount of very good bilateral work going on.”
On Wednesday Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence and strategic affairs minister, had some harsh and frank words for Britain ahead of UK Foreign Minister William Hague’s visit to the Holy Land.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Steinitz was non-commital on whether the two countries remained friends.
“It’s difficult to say,” he said “Traditionally we had good relations with Britain and currently we have good intelligence cooperation with Britain and it’s very successful. [But] we are concerned about the relations, about what we see as some animosities, some incitement in Britain, in the media, made by NGOs [non-governmental organizations] against Israel. I hope we will be able to use [Mr Hague’s] visit to improve relations.”
In response to Steinitz’s comments, Hague said in an interview with Sky News that Israel has lost some support in Britain and in other European countries due to its settlement construction policy.
Hague said that Britain strongly disagrees with “settlements on occupied land” and added that “We want to see both Israelis and Palestinians really commit themselves to the peace process while there is still a chance of a two-state solution.”
Peres and Hague discussed the issue of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority during their meeting as well.
“I can see positive developments on our side, on the Palestinian side and on the Arab side. I think that Arab Initiative is a departure from a strategy of war to a strategy of peace, which is important. I see that quietly things are moving,” Peres said.
Hague, while not commenting on the progress being made towards the resumption of peace talks, which have been stalled, offered his country’s support. “The United Kingdom will do what it can to assist with this process, in the hope that all the great opportunities of this region can be fully realized in the next generation.”