William Hague has spoken in today’s Commons debate on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. A pdf of his full speech is here. The following extract is worth highlighting, however:
"The right of Israel to defend itself is clear and its desire severely to damage the ability of Hezbollah to attack the Israeli civilian population is wholly understandable. Calling for an unconditional ceasefire on the part of Israel, as the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, is futile – there is clearly going to be no ceasefire unless kidnapped soldiers are returned, rocket attacks on Haifa and other locations ceased and some hope provided that the international community will assist Lebanon to have a stable future and one without the presence of armed militias inside its borders. But it is not clear that it is in the interests of Israel, let alone anyone else, to delay for one moment the effort to bring about a ceasefire with these and other conditions. Criticism of the proportionality of the Israeli response, including attacks on Lebanese army units and such enormous damage to the capacity of the Lebanese government, damages the Israeli cause in the long term. And it is by no means clear that a continued bombardment of Hezbollah areas will result in military success from Israel’s point of view. The idea therefore that it is somehow in the interests of Israel or of a longer term solution to these matters for the fighting to go on for several more weeks may prove to be woefully misguided."
I can’t quite work out what our Shadow Foreign Secretary is trying to say. All the hedging suggests he’s not saying very much. But in mentioning the "criticism of the proportionality of the Israeli response" I think he may – in very diplomatic language – be disagreeing with Israel’s tactics.