Hague pays tribute to Britain-Israel 'common interests'

Britain was "grateful" for Israel's friendship and strategic partnership, the Foreign Secretary told a London conference today.

Addressing an audience at thinktank Chatham House, to mark 60 years of British-Israeli diplomatic relations, William Hague said the anniversary was a "milestone in our shared history".

He expressed "personal hope" that the bond between the two countries would continue to thrive and "grow even stronger in the future than they are today".

He said: "Our relationship with Israel goes far beyond the realm of diplomatic relations, as important as those are.

"It is based on bonds between families and communities as well as shared values and common interests."

During his speech he emphasised that Britain's support for Israel's right to exist was "not an issue of discussion or compromise". He asserted Israel's right to self-defence and condemned those who sought to boycott or delegitimise Israel.

Mr Hague discussed the changing landscape of the Middle East as a result of the Arab Spring, as well as the recent Palestinian terror attacks, including the massacre of the Fogel family, rocket attacks on Gaza and a bomb in central Jerusalem.

He said: "I am always struck by the fact that there are still 57 countries in the Muslim and Arab world that do not yet recognise Israel.

"I know that the threats for Israel are not just historical, they are real, clear and present, and that Israel sees itself as a country that lives on a knife-edge."

Mr Hague said that a two-state solution would be the way to ensure "a secure future forever" for Israel.

He said: "Security will become harder, not easier, to achieve over time.

    Last updated: 11:14am, March 31 2011