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Hain on Middle East

Oct 31, 2001 07:26 PM
by nos

London, Friday, October 26, 2001

Hain beats a retreat over Israeli 'atrocities'

By Anton La Guardia,
Diplomatic Editor

PETER HAIN, the Foreign Office minister, came close yesterday to
accusing Israel of committing "terrorist acts" in Palestinian areas.

Speaking to foreign correspondents in London, he said: "We are just as
horrified as Arab leaders and Arab peoples about the atrocities in the
occupied areas -- and indeed in Israel.

"It's absolutely vital that this tit-for-tat violence stops and that
people get round the negotiating table and start talking rather than
fighting. "We deplore all assassinations, all terrorist attacks, whether
suicide bombs in Tel Aviv or terrorist acts in the occupied areas."

The mere hint that Israeli forces are responsible for terrorist acts and
atrocities would be unprecedented in British diplomacy.
Last night Mr Hain hurriedly explained that he had been referring not to
Israeli forces but to extremists among Jewish settlers "who commit
random acts of violence".

He said: "I am not for a moment equating Israeli actions in the occupied
territories with terrorist acts.

"Israel is a legitimate government with an army. We wish they were not
in the occupied territories. To suggest that that is equivalent to
terror is nonsense. But equally, I regard many of the actions of the
Israeli forces as unacceptable."

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