Hague says Israel must do more for Middle East peace
NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - The government called on Israel to build on the momentum provided by the release of its soldier Gilad Shalit to advance peace talks with the Palestinians.
Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the release of Shalit after more than five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip as part of a thousand-for-one prisoner exchange.
"It provides a glimmer of hope in an often bleak scene that a successful negotiation can be carried out on this difficult subject," Hague told Reuters during a trip to North Africa.
"I know it is important for Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiation on the Middle East peace process and to approach it in the same way," he added.
"In particular, we believe Israel should be ready to make a more decisive offer than Israeli leaders have made in recent years on the peace process to give talks a chance of success."
Hague said that tight controls of crossings into Hamas-controlled Gaza had backfired.
"I also hope it will encourage Israel to relax the controls on the crossing points into Gaza. The extent of the controls has generally served to strengthen Hamas rather than to weaken them."
Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair also saw a chance to kick start the peace process. "I hope it also offers us a moment of opportunity, and not simply in respect of Gaza where Hamas are presently in charge, but also for a...revival of credibility in a peace process we really need to prioritise," he told the BBC.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Addison, writing by Keith Weir Editing by Maria Golovnina)
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