Foreign Secretary William Hague warns that if progress is not made on the Middle East peace process in 2013, then “people will increasingly conclude that a two-state solution has become impossible”.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mr Hague warned that the two-state solution may no longer be feasible in two years’ time.
“I attach enormous importance to this in the year 2013, particularly with a new or reelected Israeli government and with a US administration beginning its second term. If we do not make progress in the coming year, people will increasing conclude that a two-state solution has become impossible.”
He added: “It is very much in the long-term strategic interests of Israel and peace in the whole region to embrace the two state solution because all alternatives to that will be more problematic for the Israelis
Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election that is expected to hand hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term.
However, Mr Netanyahu’s own Likud party, running alongside the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, looks set to have fewer seats than in the previous parliament, with opinion polls showing a surge in support for the far-right Jewish Home party, led by hi-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett.
Mr Bennett has ruled out any peace pact with the Palestinians and calls for the annexation of much of the occupied West Bank.
Political sources said Mr Netanyahu, concerned by his apparent fall in popularity, might approach centre-left parties after the ballot in an effort to broaden his coalition and present a more moderate face to Washington and other concerned allies.
Some 5.66 million Israelis are eligible to cast a ballot, with polling stations closing at 10pm (2000 GMT).
Full results are due by Wednesday morning, opening the way for coalition talks that could take several weeks.
“Now is the time for leaders on both sides to display real leadership,” says State Department spokeswoman about Israel and the PA.
www.israelnationalnews.com – By Elad Benari
The United States on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume direct talks in 2013 and move toward peace.
“As we turn the calendar to 2013… now is the time for leaders on both sides to display real leadership, to focus on the work that’s necessary to return to direct negotiations,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was quoted by AFP as having said.
The U.S. urged “both sides to clearly demonstrate that they are serious about achieving two states living side by side in peace and security,” she said, calling on both sides to halt any “counter-productive unilateral actions.”
Nuland stressed that with President Barack Obama starting his second White House term this month and upcoming elections in Israel, the two sides are heading into a particularly important period.
“We have an environment that was quite fraught and quite difficult at the end of 2012, so the question is whether we can make a fresh start in 2013, and that’s going to require restraint on all sides,” Nuland said, according to AFP.
“We want 2013 to be a better year, we really do,” she added.
Since 2009 Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to come to the negotiating table with Israel and has continuously tried to impose preconditions on talks.
One of his longstanding demands is that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as final borders. He has also demanded that Israel release all Arab terrorists from its jails, and halt construction in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem for a second time before talks begin. At the same time, he has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist. His Fatah party’s newly adopted logo shows all of Israel as Palestine.
Even when Israel imposed a ten-month freeze on Jewish construction in an attempt to bring Abbas back to the negotiating table, he refused, choosing instead to impose more preconditions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called Abbas back to the negotiating table several times, but Abbas has refused. Instead, he opted for unilateral moves such as upgrading the PA’s status in the United Nations to a non-member observer state.
This week he said that the UN vote was the “birth certificate” of a Palestinian state.
“We have a birth certificate… and we want to complete the march toward full independence,” Abbas said. “Next year, 2013, will be the year of statehood and independence.”