Israel warned against military attack on Iran.

William Hague

William Hague

Israel was urged to give sanctions "a real chance" as Iran announced it was cutting oil sales to Britain and France.

Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Israel to look again at the approach "of very serious economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure, and the readiness to negotiate with Iran.

His comments followed a week in which Iranians were fingered as the perpetrators of three attacks or attempted attacks on Israeli diplomatic staff. One, in Delhi a week ago, left the wife of an Israeli embassy staffer with severe injuries after a car exploded while she was on the school run.

"[Sanctions are] what we now have to make a success of," said Mr Hague during a BBC interview. "I don't think the wise thing at this moment is for Israel to launch a military attack on Iran."

Sunday also saw a warning from the US that an Israeli strike would be counterproductive.

Tom Donilon, the National Security Adviser, was in Israel this weekend to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr Donilon cautioned that Israel should avoid a "destabilising" attack.

"It wouldn't achieve their long-term objectives," he said. "But…I also understand that Israel has national interests that are unique to them."

The Iranian decision halt oil sales is largely symbolic and is not likely to have any real impact, as neither country looks only to Iran for crude oil imports.

Last updated: 11:01am, February 20 2012