Britain slammed Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Monday as "deliberate vandalism" of efforts to establish a Palestinian state. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's comments came during his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Once you place physical facts on the ground which make it impossible to deliver what everyone has for years agreed is the ultimate destination, then you do immense damage," Clegg told reporters. "It's an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise upon which negotiations have taken place for years and that is why we have expressed our concerns as a government in increasingly forceful terms," he said, according to Reuters.
"If there was any time for real progress, then it is now at a time when so much change and transformation has taken place throughout the region," Clegg said.
He, however, concluded his remarks by saying there was no stronger supporter of Israel than himself.
On his part, Abbas welcomed the deputy prime minister's comments. "This is exactly what we had wanted to hear officially from government of the United Kingdom," he said. He reiterated his call for a halt to settlement building. The Palestinian leader said he had received no new proposals from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that Palestinian negotiators were still scheduled to meet their Israeli counterparts two or three more times.