I blogged previously about this having been a week in which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon were both due for talks with UK Government ministers in London. President Abbas' visit has since been widely reported, and I have already posted Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel's press release on that here. Among that coverage, incidentally, was the Telegraph's saying that:
Mr Ayalon said: "We have the greatest appreciation for the position of the Deputy Prime Minister as a politician and for Mr Clegg himself. So this is why we see (some words of Mr Clegg's) as a problem." But he added: "We look at it as an isolated case, not reflective of the very strong relations that we have."
In general, said Mr Ayalon, Britain and Israel saw "eye to eye" on the Middle East, notably over the dangers posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions. "We believe in the same things. We have the same interests of basically a calm Middle East," he said.
In light of that, it's interesting to read the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office's press release about Mr Ayalon's talks with British Middle East Minister Alistair Burt, with Mr Burt saying:
We also discussed again the importance of building peaceful pressure on Iran to address the international community's clear and united concerns about its nuclear programme. I set out the state of negotiations in Brussels and the UK's expectation that the EU will agree wide ranging sanctions, including on the oil sector, on 23 January. This will send yet another clear message to Iran, that it must change course and engage on the nuclear issue without preconditions. The E3+3's invitation to Iran to engage constructively still stands, as does the offer we made at Istanbul in 2011. I hope that Iran will take this opportunity to do so, but until it does the pressure from the international community will only intensify.
It also says that Mr Burt "raised concerns relating to Palestinian children in Israeli detention, and the need for further relaxation of Israeli restrictions on Gaza" and it is definitely worth a read in full. A range of senior figures in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government are on the record as supporting the need for "peaceful pressure on Iran to address the international community's clear and united concerns about its nuclear programme". The point of sanctions is to avert the possibility that, as a desperate last resort, military action might become necessary - it is strongly to be hoped that such military action never has to happen. Anyone who thinks that any government would relish taking such action is deeply mistaken. According to one newspaper: "One senior Israeli military strategist described (recent British sanctions) as 'equivalent to military action'".