Financial Times

Financial Times misleads with partial quote by William Hague about ‘Palestine’

A Financial Times article by Philip Stephens, Israel is losing its friends in the world (Oct. 16), included the following passage in support of the broader thesis suggesting strong UK political support for recognizing ‘Palestine’ as a state, and dismissing Israeli concerns over statehood recognition outside the context of negotiations.

The Israeli argument, echoed as it was by a handful of supportive MPs, is that the process of recognising Palestine as a state, which began in the UN general assembly two years ago, is a brake on peace. Statehood is a prize to be “earned”. To concede it now would be to reduce the pressure for Palestinians to make tough compromises.

There was never great logic in this. As several MPs pointed out, the formulation offers Israel an extraordinary veto over the choices of other sovereign states. Even if this once made tactical sense, the proposition has been robbed of reason by Mr Netanyahu: Palestinians cannot be denied statehood because of Israel’s intransigence.

On Palestinian statehood, [Jack] Straw quoted the words in 2011 of William Hague, then Mr Cameron’s foreign secretary: “The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils the criteria for UN membership, including statehood.”

However, the Hague quote cite by the Financial Times is only a partial one. 

Here’s the full passage from Hague’s statement to Parliament on November 9th, 2011, explaining his government’s decision to abstain on a vote in the UN on recognizing Palestine as a state with full membership.

“The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils criteria for UN membership, including statehood as far as the reality of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories allows, but its ability to function effectively as a State would be impeded by that situation. A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to allow Palestinian aspirations to be met in reality and on the ground.”

The Financial Times clearly left out a key passage, where Hague expresses his government’s view that prematurely recognizing ‘Palestine’ before a negotiated agreement is reached would impede the new state’s ability to “function effectively as a State”.

The full quote by Hague not only significantly changes the meaning and context of what the words convey to the average reader, but, to some degree, tends to support the Israeli view (dismissed by the Financial Times reporter) detailed above, that “statehood is a prize to be earned”, and “to concede it now would be to reduce the pressure for Palestinians to make tough compromises”.

The Financial Times article was predictably tendentious, and the partial quote selected in service of the polemical narrative extremely misleading. 

10 replies »

  1. If the full quote had been given Philip Stephens is not saying anything new. In other words this is not a story. Unfortunately the Commons vote was another kick in the teeth for Israel in terms of bolstering the anti-Israel agenda. By omitting the words, and conflating the distorted message of the article with the live facts of what happened in Parliament helps propagate the false view that the leaders of the political parties unconditionally recognise “Palestine”

  2. Not sure if the author reads this correctly: The full quote augments the belief that Palestine should be granted statehood, not, as the author misinterprets, that statehood should wait for a negotiated end to the occupation. What Hague is saying that Palestine does fulfill the criteria of statehood BUT a functioning state will only come about once a negotiated end to the occupation occurs. There is nothing in the statement that precludes the state of Israel and the state of Palestine conducting that negotiation. Indeed a state to state negotiation may successfully conclude faster than the current situation.

    • I don’t agree with your final comment. Apart from Egypt and Jordan, 20 Arab “states” have not made any practical move to make peace with Israel, and a Palestinian State , it would follow is no more likely, on the facts, to make the peace. In any event , without a successfully negotiated boundary line, where on earth would the “State” of Palestine be situate and what would be it’s capital? The Parliamentary vote was, altogether a nonsense.

  3. It is strange – because the ‘Palestinians’ met exactly none of the criteria of statehood.

    According to mere international law “defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.”

    So where do the Arabs qualify on any point?

  4. “There was never great logic in this. As several MPs pointed out, the formulation offers Israel an extraordinary veto over the choices of other sovereign states.”

    What “choices” would those be exactly? The choice to foist a foreign belligerent state into historically Jewish lands? Someone needs to inform Mr. Stephens that those sovereign states’ sovereign rights end at their sovereign borders. He should change “choices” to “opinions,” but then he couldn’t assert that Israelis have a “veto” over their “choices,” but rather just a disagreement with their opinions.

    • I’m sure you’re longing to tell what sovereign borders you’re referring to.

      Because we know what the sovereign borders of Israel are – and anything beyond that is the Palestinian state!

      As soon as Palestinians consider themselves ready to declare it!

      • Nick, you are way ahead of everyone! I see you are in favour of the NO State solution. Can’t wait to read your book and they offer you the Nobbly Peace Prize.

  5. William Hague is a chicken, allowing himself to be bullied by the Zionists.

    When he was British Shadow Foreign Secretary had the temerity to describe Israel’s actions in Gaza as “disproportionate” (just as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman had done: “To those countries who claim that we are using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: You’re damn right we are.”)

    Top Zionist Lord Kalms hit out at Hague and told The Spectator that his comments were “not merely unhelpful” but “downright dangerous.”

    Nevertheless, Hague went to the Conservative Friends of Israel annual bash in 2008 – and himself to be grilled by arch-Zionist journalist Danny Finkelstein . “Are you a Zionist?” he was asked.

    Hague cravenly agreed. Later that year when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, the ‘d’ word did not pass his lips.

  6. Just WOW!.

    All these column inches and all these comments and not a one of you seem to have read the actual original discussion.

    The FT article is *not* quoting William Hague – hence ALL reference to what Hague said is completely irrelevant. The article is referencing what Jack Straw said and it quotes him completely and accurately.

    But lets even set that fact aside. The Hague comment clearly says that the condition of statehood is met. The bit that Jack Straw didn’t quote only says that that the impediment to operationalising state machinery is the illegal Israeli Occupation. Why should we not recognise a state, that fulfills the criteria for statehood, just because Israel illegally occupies it.