Lauder Criticizes British Foreign Minister for Ignoring Israel's Security Interests

09 February 2011

Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), has expressed disappointment about comments made by British Foreign Secretary William Hague on the Middle East and Israel. Lauder called them “one-sided” and added: “Putting undue political pressure on Israel alone, completely neglecting its vital security interests, is counterproductive and unhelpful.” Hague was quoted Wednesday by the London newspaper ‘The Times’ as saying that "This should not be a time for belligerent language”. He was asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement before the Knesset in which he said Israel had to be prepared for "any outcome” in Egypt and "to reinforce its might”. According to the newspaper, Hague also demanded that the Obama administration give a timetable for bringing “greater urgency into the peace process” and for a peace settlement to be based on the borders prior to 1967.

“On an almost daily basis we see Europe’s political leaders going around the Middle East lecturing the Israelis about what they should do, and that they should do it now. What these leaders forget is that Israel cannot make concessions on its vital security needs, because this would mean suicide in the current climate, certainly as long as the Palestinians cannot guarantee Israel’s vital security interests and are pursuing a unilateral strategy which is in clear breach of all major agreements between parties since the Oslo Accords,” Lauder declared. “The British and other European governments would be well-advised to put more real effort into improving the situation on the ground instead of just taking the backseat and leaving Israel, the only democracy in the region, alone. Talk is cheap, but action is what we need,” the WJC president said.

Hague, who was on a visit to several Arab countries including Tunisia and Jordan, also called Israel's stance on West Bank settlements "disappointing" and went on to say that peace might become "impossible" within a few years. The British foreign minister also voiced concerns about a new conflict between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel, following last month's collapse of the Lebanese government. "The scale of any military conflict that may happen between Israel and Hezbollah is growing, because of the growth of armaments in the area," Hague was quoted as saying. Writing on the online news platform ‘Twitter’, he added: "Time for bold leadership on Middle East Peace Process from the US & equally bold steps by Israelis and Palestinians".

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