The Foreign Secretary is regarded by many as an Arabist, at home in a Foreign Office dominated by the "camel corps". That impression seemed to be confirmed on his first official trip to Washington in May. At a private breakfast at the British embassy, Mr Hague was asked by a guest about a phrase he used a lot during the election, when he said that the UK should have "solid but not slavish" ties with the US. How would Mr Hague have acted differently from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown?
"Israel," he replied, before elaborating: "The Lebanon war."
There was a pregnant pause as the guests realised what Mr Hague was saying. He was using US and UK support for Israel as a stick with which to attack the US-UK special relationship.
So there was much talk in advance of the frosty reception he would receive this week. As if to guarantee it, on Monday Dan Meridor, the Israeli deputy prime minister, had to cancel a visit to speak at a large Jewish community dinner in London when Israeli law officers told him he could not travel. The word was that the Turks were seeking to arraign him for his role in the storming of the Mavi Marmara flotilla. As the visit was not on official business, there was concern he would not have diplomatic immunity and, because the Government has still not changed the universal jurisdiction law, could be arrested.
On cue, as Mr Hague touched down in Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor announced that the government would be suspe... >>>
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