William Hague’s nasty Chatham House speech on Israel.

"Vague" Hague.

"Vague" Hague.

William Hague, Britain’s Foreign Minister, recently spoke at Chatham House about 60 years of diplomatic relations between Britain and Israel.

If you want a perfect example of how Britain’s foreign policy has waivered dangerously over the years towards Israel then this speech is a must read.

On the surface Hague’s speech seemed as fluffy and diplomatic as ever towards Israel.

He begins talking about Israel’s undisputed right to exist and to self-defence and Britain’s firm opposition to those who delegitimise and boycott Israel.

But near the end of the speech he states the following that seems to totally condradict this expression of support:

“The British Government has made very clear our concern about ongoing settlement expansion. We believe it is illegal, an obstacle to peace and a threat to a two state solution.”

Two sentences that say so much.

First, I take issue with the word “settlement”. They are actually towns or cities but, admittedly, one wouldn’t expect Hague to do away with such an in-vogue term.

Second, either something is legal or it is illegal. Murder is illegal. One cannot believe that murder is illegal. It is illegal because the law says so.

But there is no law that says the “settlements” are illegal. I suspect Hague knows this, which is why he says he “believes” their expansion is illegal. Very diplomatic.

Nevertheless, Britain voted for last month’s resolution that stated the settlements to be illegal. The resolution was vetoed by America.

But by stating that he “believes” that “settlement expansion” is “illegal” Hague plays straight into the hands of the delegitimiers and boycotters who target Israel because of this alleged “illegality” (see the Ahava boycott).

Hague’s loose talk is boosting the campaigns of those who wish to tear down the Jewish state. Why does he insist on doing this and what are the Conservative Friends of Israel doing on this matter?

Moreover, it was Britain in the first place, via the Balfour Declaration, that said that Jewish people should live where the “settlements” are now, so unless a law is enacted to the contrary how can something Britain once defined as legal suddenly be considered “illegal”? Hague’s position is illogical.

And what has Hague got against “settlement expansion” anyway? British towns expand as of necessity, so why not Israeli “settlements”?

As for Hague referring to “settlement expansion” as being “an obstacle to peace”, even the Palestinians have accepted the “settlements”. See Palileaks.  It is only Hamas they hinder because they block Hamas’ ultimate desire to destroy the Jewish state.

And as for Hague saying “settlement expansion” is “a threat to a two state solution”, well again this is just a load of baloney when the Palestinians will never sign a peace treaty with Israel in a million years even if the “settlements” were removed. We know what Hamas wants and Fatah are too scared of Hamas to ever sign a peace treaty with Israel.

In the same speech Hague gives an answer to the “settlement” conundrum when he talks of any peace deal involving “1967 borders with equivalent land swaps”. So why all this continued fuss over “settlement expansion”? The Palestinians will receive a 1:1 land swap in any eventual peace deal anyway.

Hague blathers on about the “settlement expansion”, but by doing so he is supporting the delegitimisation of Israel and of the settlers. And we have seen where delegitimisation of the settlers leads.

In his speech Hague did condemn the slaughter of the Fogel family in Itamar by two Palestinians. But he diluted the condemnation by referring to the loss of innocent life “on all sides”.

I don’t wish to see any innocent Palestinians killed but there is a huge difference between specifically targeting a three month old Israeli boy and slitting his throat and accidentally killing Palestinian civilians while in the process of trying to destroy Hamas positions to stop deadly rockets being launched into southern Israel.

If Hague really supports Israel’s right to self-defence then he should understand that the blame for the spilling of innocent Palestinian blood lies solely with Palestinian terrorists who fire rockets from civilian areas.

Israel does not target innocent civilians, but Hague’s attempt at moral equivalence infers that it does!

Honestly, has there ever been a Foreign Secretary as disingenuous as William Hague? Oh yes, David Miliband, his predecessor, who also spoke of Israel’s right to self-defence, but expelled an Israeli diplomat after Israel, probably, assassinated a Hamas terrorist in Dubai, and in circumstances in which not one civilian was killed or injured.

30 responses to “William Hague’s nasty Chatham House speech on Israel.

  1. Richard Tebboth

    I wonder whose authority you would accept on the legality or otherwise of the ‘settlements’ be they outposts/hamlets/villages/towns/cities.
    How do you define Judea and Samaria?
    It is helpful that you reference the Balfour declaration: surely ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ in Palestine does not equate to the entire land east of the Jordan.

    • Sharon Klaff

      There are no Jews living East of the Jordan River! But since you ask, yes that is the entire land that it was agreed would be the homeland of the Jews at the only legal conference on the settlement of the area in San Remo in 1920.

      Times have moved on though and the Jews have acepted that Israel will be confined to the West of the Jordan River, that is until the Arabs decided to call themselves Palestinians in 1969 and demand a state for themselves that would be totally free of Jews – ethnically cleansed that is.

  2. Sharon Klaff

    William Hague is the same precautious little schoolboy who burst into fame at that long forgotten Conservative Party Conference, who failed at his attempt to lead this country and is now failing his country by being an incapable foreign secretary.

    Can he please explain why it is that Jews alone will be the only people not able to live in this wonderland called Palestine that the world wants to create in Judea and Sumeria? Why is it that this wonderland they wish to call Palestine will have to be free of Jews? Can you then explain why Israel cannot be free of Arabs? You will of course respond instantly that it is racist to expel a people from their homes, to ethnically cleanse a land of one particular group of people and you would of course be correct. Even William Hague can see that. Why then is it not racist to ethnically cleanse this wonderland state they wish to call Palestine of Jews? Why is that exempt from the human rights conscience of the nations of the world, of the UN, of the EU and of our own PM and his wet behind the ears Foreign Secretary?

    There is only one answer – illogical mother’s-milk-imbibed Jew hatred.

  3. look at what those innocent civilians are doing and specifically where

    and thank you Richard – all this crawling into the nether regions of you know who makes me sick

  4. richardmillett

    British Mandate Palestine was due to include Jordan. Then it was hived off. But that entire land was originally envisaged for the Jews in the Balfour Declaration. As it stands the declaration, minus Jordan, is still in legal force under the UN Charter. Nothing has yet superseded it. Until something does the “settlements” and “settlers” have every legal right to be there.

  5. as to nether regions – Liebermann made a nice multi-layered statement

    Lieberman was giving an interview [2]from his home about Gaza terrorists, and right around the time he said, “We know who we’re dealing with,” there was an audible toilet flush in the background.

  6. richardmillett

    Thanks, Silke. And here’s one from a cemetery. They probably didn’t realise it was a cemetery though, because they do respect their dead of course……

    • respect their dead of course……

      before or after they’ve killed them themselves?

      I am referring to that unsubstantiated rumour of course that there is some Muslims killing Muslims going on at one place or another

  7. Britain has never been a friend of Israel. Well not since the Balfour Declaration anyway. Let’s not forget the 1939 White paper and Bevin’s ferocious hatred towards the Jews, Churchill’s betrayal over the partition plan, and the UK’s abstention during the UN vote for Israel’s foundation and independence in 1948. Some friend!
    And the smirking smarmy nincompoop Schoolboy William is out of his depth and in the wrong job, and should keep his incompetent nose out of other people’s business. The same goes for the thumbsucker-in-chief across the pond.
    ‘We believe it is illegal’ is an extraordinary statement….a real giveaway. As Richard points out, you don’t ‘believe’ something is illegal. It either is or it isn’t. And this nitwit is Foreign Secretary!! The fact is the communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal because there is no international law anyone can point to indicating that they are. There is in fact a still legally binding League of Nations resolution from San Remo in 1922 that states that they are legal.

  8. actually I can imagine cases where I believe something is illegal but when I follow it up with accusations I better substantiate that belief with some solid argument. If I don’t I self-convict as slanderer.

  9. William Hague has for ages had an obsession with Israel – and not a very nice one.

    He was very outspoken against Israel during the Hezbollah war in 2006, and has remained obsessed with that conflict ever since. He randomly referenced ir a year ago in America.

    Brilliant post, Richard. So many people walk away from speeches such as that all grateful and fuzzy. But as you show, hidden within this one is some nasty stuff.

    I heard George Osborne give a speech at the Board of Deputies last year. Loads of people said it was a wonderful speech, but I took issue with a few sections including:

    “There are very few Jews, anywhere in the world, whose lives, through their families, haven’t been touched by the politics of totalitarians and the crimes of dictators. This country’s proudest boast is that here, in Britain, in our land, refugees found a home. Here they lived in peace. Here they rebuilt their lives.”

    He didn’t mention that Britain was in fact the final country in western Europe to accept Jewish immigrants, and the first to expel Jewish people.

    He also spun the same line about settlements as Hague. This ‘obstacle to peace’ nonsense has embedded itself in the debate. Hamas et al must be creasing their sides.

    • I remember having read that Jewish schools need armed guards in Britain just as they do in Germany.

      as long as that is the case bragging about providing a peaceful something is a bit besides the pale, me thinks …

  10. Israelinurse

    The obstacle to peace is the refusal of so many to accept the presence of Jews in this region.
    Until Hague’s government stops funding (DFID) organisations dedicated to the dismantling of Israel and until he and his colleagues stop the EU from funding Palestinian incitement against Israelis, he has nothing whatsoever to contribute to the discussion.

  11. Daniel Marks


    I also disagree with all the points that you mention from in Hague’s speech, however, in this case I find it difficult to share your righteous indignation.

    I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said of his rival, “I don’t object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it up there.” That has always been the genius of British foreign policy. On the one hand doing exactly what it deems as serving British interests, while on the other hand being able to convince one and all that its motives are altruistic. Now more than ever as it kills Moslems in Libya and Afghanistan, it is crucial that her majesty’s foreign policy not be seen as anti-Arab. What better way to prove this than by bashing Israel a bit?

    Nor was there anything that you report Hague as having said that, unfortunately, would have been unacceptable to most Israeli Left wing politicians, journalists and “thinkers”.

  12. Israeli Jews build. Palestinian Arabs kill. Anyone who equates the two is morally bankrupt. The tragedy is that so many – including too many of our fellow Jews – can’t see this.

  13. Michael Goldman

    It’s actually the Arabs who do most of the building here.

  14. Daniel Marks


    You are splitting hairs, and heaven only knows that there are precious few left to split.

    When we last moved house we employed an excellent Palestinian contractor who was able in the course of less than two months to finish of everything including his brother.

    One day he didn’t turn up for work and I asked his second-in-command where he was, he told me that his brother had died. The work carried on, but after a few days I asked where the gentleman was and was told that he was in a PA prison, because they thought he had killed his brother. I asked whether this was true and was told that it was. However, I was relieved to learn that he’d be out within two weeks, which he was.

    I was pleased when he returned and concluded the work in excellent fashion. We became quite friendly though when he called me “achi” (my brother) a shiver went through my spine. My daughter also reminds me that he made the Jewish blessing (שהכל) over water.

    With the passing of years I forget his name, it may have been Wallid or something of the like. Anyway, regarding what Ric said, Wallid both built and killed.

    • Daniel
      you certainly are a storyteller which in my worldview is about the biggest compliment I can think of

      I hope you all store them somewhere and publish them as a book one day.

      To look at the spine of it regularly would surely assist me in my quest to stay sane

  15. Can anyone remember the SF story where the residents of an academic planet at the edge of the universe put the assurances that a Galactic Federation representative makes into a text analysis and discover every point is contradicted somewhere else in the speech, leading to a final score to the question, “Will they support us if attacked?” is zero i.e. maybe?

    Daniel Marks has a point here but I’m not sure there is, apart from academia and the media, that will survive the next Israeli election, no matter how they copy the International Left.

  16. The ‘Destroy Israel Lobby’ has occupied the language. There are three arguments in favour of the settlements are illegal idea. I’ll have to break this post into three or four to discuss them as I understand them.
    The first is two lines in The Fourth Geneva Convention. Surprisingly, apart from rhetoric, I can’t find one example where this has been tested in court.

    Art. 49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

    The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

    It’s not a strong argument and has never been applied (as far as I am aware) to any other country other than Israel. The counter argument is firstly that this section was specifically written in the wake of German actions during WWII and the own civilian population transfer referred to was to German Jews moved to Czechoslovakia and Poland (and later extermination/death by mistreatment). Secondly, that Israel didn’t transfer anyone, forcibly or not. Any Israeli in the territories is there at their own initiative and at their own free will and can leave freely and without penalty should they wish. Thirdly, by the terms of the Geneva Convention the territories are not occupied because the Palestinians are not and never were a High Contracting Party (that is a state who has accepted and ratified the treaty); and because the previous regimes, Egypt and Jordan had no better title than Israel, and therefore the provisions don’t apply. Fourthly, the interpretation about settling in territory conquered in war was never considered about China that has transferred Han Chinese to occupied Tibet nor Soviet Russia with Ethnic Russians to the Baltics and dissidents from the Baltics to Siberia or for that matter to Jordanian transfer of its own into Jewish areas captured in 1948 .

  17. Daniel Marks

    Unfortunately, I’m sure that the Left will survive. I’m not certain who said it, but it may have been Chaim Weizmann who when hearing of the State of Israel’s first murder said (paraphrase), “Thank G-d that we are a nation like all nations.” Anyway, it is true. We have our rapists, our murderers, our pimps and thank G-d we have our self-hating Israeli Left too.

    They have long given up on the idea of democracy or of persuading other voters that they might be right, choosing instead to on the one hand give Israel as bad a name a possible abroad, and then on the other hand to tell us that if we don’t do what they say everyone abroad will hate us.

    Since they are pretty much despised by pretty much everyone and have little popular support outside of Tel Aviv here, they turn to anti-Zionists to fund them. My daughter works with young Israelis preparing for the IDF. Last week “Breaking the Silence” sent an enormous luxury bus to take less than ten kids on a tour of Hebron. Dina asked one of their organizers whether such opulence was not a waste of the Saudi Arabian citizens’ hard earned taxes, he merely laughed.

    I’m not sure who’s taking advantage of whom, but let’s just say our Left are far from being naïve, and in my opinion give foreign funders very poor returns for their investments.

    • We’ll have to wait until the next elections but I’m far from sure the Jewish ‘Left’ will survive. Meretz has currently three seats. By the voting rules it is impossible to have less than two (the exception is a candidate like Flatto Sharon or Meir Kahane running alone and therefore winning one seat). Given the continuing slide in Meretz support it is far from certain they will cross the threshold.

      The Labor Party has split into two parties of five and eight seats. Just how many seats either will win is a huge question. Does anyone really think either group will increase their strength? Perhaps the only ‘left wing’ party with a real chance is Kadima who do not label themselves as Left.

      There is of course Hadash, formerly the Communists, that allows Jews on their list despite receiving almost no Jewish votes. One could argue that apart from their history there is really nothing Left about them. They won’t be in any conceivable government and I haven’t included them in my general statement for that reason.

  18. The Second argument is that the International Court of Justice made an advisory decision to that effect when they considered Israel’s separation barrier. Israel did not represent itself in this case IMHO a tactical mistake because they claimed the court lacked jurisdiction. The decision was made in absentia.

    Part of the argument was that a 2/3 majority of the UNGA did not authorise it, but Israel wasn’t in court to argue it. Another argument is that the court required the consent of Israel and that was denied. The third argument was that the court was in effect a political body and that the judges were simply voting their country’s position on the matter. The fourth argument was that the judgement was non binding, although not without legal effect because it should have been binding on the UNGA and UNSC.

    The bottom line was that this decision is the only one made in a recognised court on the legality or otherwise of Israeli building. Hypocritical or not, kangaroo court or not, it exists and Israel lost the opportunity of putting it’s case.

  19. The third argument is that the UN has repeatedly called the settlements illegal. International law by majority vote. It’s a bit redundant. The UN except in a very limited area of some international conventions, such as the Law of the Sea only makes law when each individual state signs and ratifies a convention or a declaration i.e. makes it part of domestic law. It is not a World Parliament.

    The exception would be the Security Council whose resolutions are binding because each member of the UN has signed and ratified in their pre-eminent law-making body that they will be. They can be enforced by economic and military means. You could argue that only the one resolution clearly declared Israeli settlement illegal and that was recently defeated by the mealy-mouthed US veto.

    There is and has been for most of its existence a built-in majority against Israel in the UN and therefore its agencies. Despite the UN’s many failures. corruption and inefficiency the UN is presented as the moral conscience of the world. Obama’s, the UN told me to bomb Libya, is a good example.

    BTW the British Government’s intellectual gymnastics on this issue didn’t start with William Hague. I haven’t noticed any change in the CFO position with the change of government.

    • “The exception would be the Security Council whose resolutions are binding because each member of the UN has signed and ratified in their pre-eminent law-making body that they will be.”

      That still doesn’t make them ‘law’, because each country can withdraw from the UN without legal penalty. Try withdrawing unilaterally from the law that requires you to pay income tax, and see how far you get.

      “They can be enforced by economic and military means. ”

      Not those of the UN, only of big and powerful countries throwing their weight about. The rule of the bigger army is not the rule of law.

      Very good analysis, on the whole.

  20. WOW I’m really writing a lot here. Skip me if I’m boring.

    I meant to finish there is of course one International Law that unambiguously declares Israeli settlement (anywhere in the region) illegal. That is Sharia Law. Israel is illegal for two reasons – any place once conquered for Allah remains part of the Islamic Waqf (property and inheritance) forever and no Jew (or Christian) is allowed to be in a position of power over Muslims. In either case war aka jihad is the solution.

    The irony is that many of those accusing Israel of being in breach of International Law only accept it themselves where Sharia is not in conflict with it.

  21. Daniel Marks

    “Perhaps the only ‘left wing’ party with a real chance is Kadima who do not label themselves as Left.” –

    That is because the Left has such a bad name here.

    The first time Kadima ran under the leadership of Olmert, they could legitimately call themselves center. They were a bunch of corrupt opportunist with nothing in common other than wanting power, but they could call themselves center. I say this because it was generally acknowledged that they took votes both from traditional Likud voters and traditional Labor voters.

    The second time they ran it was quite clear that they had lost most of their former Likud voters so they ran on a platform of attempting to convince labor and even Meretz voters that only they could stop Bibi. Their slogan was “Tzipi or Bibi”.

    Actually the tactic was successful and though trailing all through the race, they were able to attain one seat more than the Likud. However, because Israel is a parliamentary democracy and both Shas and Lieberman preferred the Likud, they were unable to translate this success to anything meaningful.

    In my opinion Kadima today belongs squarely on the left and, unfortunately, will probably survive the next election. Given the choice I’d much rather their voters returning to the Labor party. At least they believe in something.

    • Simon Schama who is as best I know a successful TV-entrtainer-historian has a profile on Tzipi Livni – I haven’t read it but I have heard Schama make one of those remarks about Israel (he is constantly on book tour and it’s my first encounter with him) as if she were a theory not a country full of living breathing people.

      In any case to me it seems that now he has been to Israel and talked to Tzipi Livni he considers himself to be an authority on everything and all that.

      ‘I don’t do interim’: Tzipi Livni in her office in the Israeli parliament, Jerusalem