Hain questions 'two-state' aim for Middle East

The former cabinet minister, Peter Hain, has questioned whether or not a long-held aim for peace in the Middle East is achievable. He makes the remarks in a public lecture at Swansea University tonight.

Speaking as a former minister with responsibility for the Middle East, the Neath MP says the 'two-state solution' of a separate Israel and Palestine existing side by side is looking increasingly unlikely because of sustained Israeli settlement on land earmarked for a possible Palestinian state.

And he says it may be time to consider an alternative solution: a single state with Israelis and Palestinians given equal rights.

I am both a long standing supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel. As a British Minister for the Middle East in 1999-2001 I worked closely with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. My record of fighting apartheid, racism and anti-Semitism is long and recognised.

For two decades I have favoured a two-state solution as the best plan for peace and the fairest outcome, one backed by the US, the United Nations, the European Union and all 22 countries of the Arab League. Officially, it’s the stated policy of the current Israeli government and of the Palestinian Authority.

But I am increasingly unsure about whether it’s still achievable – mainly because, as time has marched on, and successive negotiating initiatives have come and gone, the land earmarked for a viable Palestinian state has been remorselessly occupied by Israeli settlers.

– Peter Hain MP