Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hague downplays impact of UK abstention on Palestine

The UK's decision to abstain in the recent UN vote upgrading the Palestinians' status to that of non-member observer state has had no impact on the government's relations with either the Palestinian Authority or Israel, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

At his departmental question session on 4 December 2012, Mr Hague described Israel's plan to extend settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories as the "wrong way to react" to the vote.

The move would make a two-state solution "almost inconceivable" and the Israeli ambassador had been "summoned" to hear the UK government's concerns about it, the foreign secretary said.

But shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander asked Mr Hague to explain how "abstaining in last week's vote at the United Nations has either enhanced the UK's influence with Israel or enhanced the UK's influence with the Palestinians".

Mr Hague replied: "The UK is in exactly the same position as before in influence with Palestinians and with Israel. We have frank but also warm relations with the Palestinians and of course we're always able to speak to the Israelis.

"Countries that voted no or yes or abstained are all in the same position over this weekend in disapproving of the Israeli decision, placing pressure on them to reverse it, and I don't believe that different ways in which we voted in the General Assembly make any difference to that."

Foreign Office: Government and opposition

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