Last night during an interview with Charlie Rose British Foreign Secretary William Hague endorsed linkage — the notion that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will help promote U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East. Here’s what was said:
- CHARLIE ROSE: But also you know that the Israelis have said that’s not acceptable, ’67 borders are not acceptable, shared Jerusalem as a capital is unacceptable. The Prime Minister has said that.
WILLIAM HAGUE: If they want as I believe they do want long term security for their country then they will have to embrace those things, arrive at a settlement around those parameters. And I think it’s vital for Israel that they do so.
Look, the Arab Spring brings many benefits. It has many — it’s a hugely positive thing for the world on the whole but I don’t think Israel would want the democratic politics of Egypt, in Libya, in Tunisia, to come in the years to come a bidding war among different parties about who can become more hostile to Israel because the Palestinian issue is not being settled. That is a danger for Israel.
Also they affect Iran, their nuclear program is a major threat to peace in the region and the world. And to focus on facing up to that threat also requires making the agreement with the Palestinians. It is vital for Israel’s security that they do so.
Hague thus joins the highest levels of the U.S. military in arguing that solving the Israel-Palestine conflict is central to progressing on other heated issues in the Middle East, such as Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. A secure and independent Palestine would not only remove one of Iran’s main rallying causes, but also undermine the impression that Washington permits Israel to behave with impunity in the region, leading to a less polarized and therefore more stable environment.
Hague’s words will likely be received negatively by neoconservatives who propagate reverse linkage, the argument that pressuring Israel to make peace should be postponed until the U.S. has dealt with Iran’s nuclear program and other potential challenges to Israel’s military dominance of the region.