Lord Peter Ricketts, a former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, expressed criticism of the Netanyahu government’s ‘Security First’ policy in Israel, and suggested it has failed to safeguard Israel or support a two-state solution. 

In a recent interview posted on the House of Lords YouTube channel on February 16, 2024, Lord Ricketts, a former British diplomat with nearly 40 years of experience, made a bold prediction during his conversation with the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith. Lord Ricketts forecasted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office would likely come to an end soon after a ceasefire is reached in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  

“It feels to me that the Netanyahu policy has failed. And I suspect that Prime Minister Netanyahu won’t be Prime Minister very long after this conflict has been at least put into a ceasefire. Equally, Hamas won’t be around. We need new leadership on both sides.”

According to Lord Ricketts, the failure of the ‘Security First’ policy is evident in the continued violence and the necessity for a political settlement that acknowledges the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians.

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“In my view, the Israelis have to think that the policy of purely a security response to the Palestinian problem – occupying Palestinian territory, repressing Palestinian opposition – that hasn’t worked. The awful terrorist attack of 7 October [2023] showed that that has not worked, and however difficult, they need to start thinking about a two-state solution.” said Lord Ricketts. 

As well as a new Palestinian leadership in Gaza to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, Lord Ricketts advocated for a new Israeli leadership that is willing to abandon the security-first doctrine and engage in meaningful political dialogue towards a two-state solution

“We’ll need the moderate Arab countries to come in and fund the enormous reconstruction program that is going to be needed – with European and American help – probably also to provide security; new Palestinian leadership that can be much more focused on working with Israel, not the terrorism we’ve seen in the past; and frankly, a new Israeli government who can put behind them Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy of security only and look at a political settlement. Because at the end of the day, the security settlement hasn’t worked.” 

Lord Ricketts underscored the high toll of civilian casualties and the need for a more comprehensive strategy that goes beyond military responses. “It is urgent that this Israel-Gaza conflict is brought to some sort of at least a ceasefire, so we can start to build an outcome that gives Israel security, but also recognises that the Palestinians have rights as well.”

On averting an increase in radicalisation in Gaza following the war, Ricketts is clear about the difficulties ahead. “The huge challenge for a new Palestinian leadership,” said Ricketts, drawing parallels with the Northern Ireland peace agreement, “is to turn that round and to say, ‘However we’ve been provoked, this is not a solution to our problem.’ And that the right way is to accept the reality of Israel, and to work with Israel, and find a peaceful settlement, find a way of coming together.”

The Israeli consulate in London was contacted in regard to Lord Ricketts’ statements but declined to comment.