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Middle East

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 19th June 2012.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire 2:30 pm, 19th June 2012

What recent assessment he has made of efforts to encourage the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to return to negotiations.

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I welcome the recent efforts by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to renew direct contacts. We have urged both sides to focus on dialogue, to avoid any steps that could undermine the prospects for peace and to work towards the resumption of direct negotiations.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

Following the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister’s reported request to meet the Palestinian President, can the Secretary of State tell me what steps he is taking to help both parties to overcome the current impasse and resume negotiations?

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are strongly urging both sides to build on the current contacts, and we have discussed that with, among others, the new Israeli Deputy Prime Minister. Those contacts include the joint statement of 12 May following the exchange of letters between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We are encouraging them to resume direct negotiations. We welcome the statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu that the new coalition in Israel presents an opportunity to advance the peace process, and we urge them to take that opportunity.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats

Much of the watching world is troubled by the thought that if there is continuing delay, there will be continuing illegal building of habitations by Israel in Palestine. Can the Foreign Secretary assure me that this issue will be a high priority for the Government, because with every year that passes, the chance of peace and justice in those two countries recedes?

Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I agree with my right hon. Friend, and he knows how regularly and vigorously we raise this issue. I have straightforwardly condemned recent announcements of settlement activity on occupied land. It is because of that activity that the opportunity for a two-state solution will slip away unless it is agreed in the not-too-distant future, so this remains one of the world’s most urgent and pressing issues.