Hague: Hamas killings were 'provocations'

William Hague condemned the shootings

William Hague condemned the shootings

William Hague has condemned the killings of four Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists on the eve of a new round of Middle East peace negotiations.

The British Foreign Secretary deplored the “cruel and inhuman attack” near Hebron, which left two couples dead and seven children orphaned.

He said: “On behalf of the United Kingdom I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed, and reaffirm our unswerving support for all those striving for peace in the region in the face of such provocations.”

Echoing calls by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu, Mr Hague said that the shooting “must not be allowed to derail efforts to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region.”

During a joint press conference with the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, Mr Hague also emphasised the "historic importance" of the talks and said that the UK would "do everything we can to buttress those them".

He added: "The parties involved will need to show commitment and courage to achieve the lasting peace that both sides deserve and we support them fully in that effort.

"We look to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to show the perseverance, commitment and courage needed to achieve a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a safe and secure Israel”.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon described the terror attack as “a cynical and blatant attempt" to undermine negotiations. He urged Israel and the Palestinians to show “leadership, courage, and responsibility” as they approached the talks.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, condemned the perpetrators for attempting to "disrupt the peace process”. Palestinian security officials said they had arrested more than 250 Hamas members in response to the attack.

Funerals for the victims were held in Israel today, with hundreds of mourners turning out to pay tribute to them.

The first direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in nearly two years start in Washington tomorrow.

Before the business end of the summit, President Obama will host a dinner for Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas, as well as Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Last updated: 11:31am, September 2 2010