Speaking to reporters before leaving on a visit to North African and Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, the foreign secretary warned that the Middle East peace process was in danger of falling victim to the revolutionary tide sweeping the Arab world.
"Amidst the opportunity for countries like Tunisia and Egypt, there is a legitimate fear that the Middle East peace process will lose further momentum and be put to one side, and will be a casualty of uncertainty in the region," Hague said in an interview with The Times en route to Jordan.
He added that "part of the fear is that uncertainty and change will complicate the process still further. That means there is a real urgency for the Israelis and the United States. Recent events mean this is an even more urgent priority and that's a case we are putting to the Israeli Government and in Washington."
According to the British minister, "This should not be a time for belligerent language. It's a time to inject greater urgency into the Middle East peace process."
He said he planned to convey similar messages to Arab leaders in his emergency tour of the region, emphasising that Britain will speak up for political and economic freedom, but explicitly acknowledging that in different countries “change will take time according to their cultures."
Between Egypt and IranThe British foreign secretary made these remarks on the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that Egypt may follow in Iran's footsteps, oppress its own people and threaten neighboring countries.
Speaking Monday at the European Friends of Israel conference at the Knesset, Netanyahu said that various potential scenarios exist in Egypt at this time, beyond the liberal democratic models – including secular reforms, an Islamist takeover, or Egypt following the Iran example.
The Obama administration conveyed a calming message to Jerusalem on Tuesday, promising that regional instability in the Middle East would not affect US relations with Israel.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was responding to criticisms that the US administration had turned its back on a key ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after protesters called on him to step down. Some wondered whether it could do the same to Israel.
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