Britain’s Foreign Secretary said that Israel wants a “permanent stand-off” with Iran and would reject any deal on the country’s nuclear programme.
Philip Hammond was in Israel Thursday for talks on this week’s nuclear agreement with Iran and is due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has remained as defiant as ever in his opposition to the agreement between Iran and the major powers, calling it a “historic mistake.”
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Philip Hammond said Israel’s stance on its neighbour was against the interests of the UK and of the wider Middle East region as a whole.
“The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv?” he told Parliament.
“The answer, of course, is that Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran. Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don’t believe that’s in the interest of the region, I don’t believe it’s in our interest.”
Mr Hammond warned that failure to reach a deal would have ultimately led to military conflict.
“The real alternative to a deal that prevents Iran building a nuclear bomb almost at some stage would have been war. What we have averted with this agreement is the threat and a prospect of a war.”
In response to a question from an MP, Mr Hammond also noted that the head of Israel’s secret service Mossad believed that the failure to resolve the Palestinian conflict was a bigger threat to the country’s security than Iran.
“Now that he’s reminded me of that I’ll certainly put it in my briefing note for the meeting [with Israeli government figures]” he said.
The Foreign Secretary’s comments are the latest in a line of indications that relations between Israel and the West are cooling.
Last month the British government condemned Israel’s “forced resettlement” of ethnic minority groups.
In March it also accused the Middle Eastern state of illegally colonising Palestinian territory under the guise of moving into areas to protect historic archaeological sites.
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