William Hague has applauded the announcement that Israel and Palestine are to renew peace talks after a five year hiatus. The British Foreign Secretary said Britain would “do all it can” to help the process after John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, revealed that delegations from Israel and Palestine had agreed to travel to Washington to restart negotiations.
"I warmly welcome Secretary Kerry's announcement this evening that Israel and the Palestinians have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations,” said Hague on Friday, adding: "I pay tribute to the efforts of Secretary Kerry and his team, and I commend the leadership shown by both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.”
The Foreign Secretary warned that "this is a beginning, not an end” but said Britain “stands ready to do all we can over the coming weeks and months to support the parties and the US in their efforts to achieve a lasting peace for the Israeli and Palestinian people."
The breakthrough came on Friday when Kerry announced the re-launch of the stalled Middle East peace process after both parties agreed to the terms for returning to negotiations.
The American diplomat had spent several days moving around the region laying the groundwork for talks. However, brokering a deal had looked increasingly unlikely due to Palestinian insistence that any negotiations on borders must fall within the lines pre-dating the 1967 conflict, a precondition that Israel rejected.
However, after extended talks with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an unscheduled meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, that obstacle appears to have been overcome.
"We have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry told reporters on Friday evening, adding that preliminary talks would take place in the US capital "within the next week or so."
However, Kerry refused to elucidate on the details of the deal. “The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private,” he said. “We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful.”
Palestinian spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina confirmed negotiations would resume. “Abbas’s meeting with Kerry in his headquarters in Ramallah on Friday evening achieved progress, and will facilitate an agreement on the basis of a resumption of talks,” he said.