Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UK foreign policy establishment’s hostility to Israel threatening MidEast peace process, and undermining Britain’s own national interests


by  Robin Shepherd

What on earth is going on in Great Britain? Earlier this week, the Foreign Office emerged as the strongest supporter in Europe of an almost unbelievably reckless proposal from Sweden — which holds the EU's rotating presidency — for a European Union resolution on the Middle East which would have recognised, in advance of any negotiations, East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. Worse still, it called for the EU to recognise a Palestinian state should the Palestinians declare one unilaterally.

Any such moves would have so incensed the Israelis that the EU would, in all likelihood, have been excluded from any future role in peace talks. It even risked undermining the peace process by encouraging the Palestinians to believe that the EU would rubber stamp a declaration of statehood regardless of their approach to negotiations. Why bother holding serious talks with Israel if a member of the MidEast quartet has already said you'll get what you want in advance? Mind blowing.

Fortunately, the resolution was watered down somewhat. But we have reached a pretty pass when the British Foreign Office has become so overcome with anti-Israeli hysteria that it is prepared to take measures which threaten the very peace agreement that the government has always said it supported. Make no mistake about it, the UK foreign policy establishment is thus working against the UK's own national interests.

As if that wasn't enough, it emerged on Thursday evening that Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued an advisory statement to retailers calling on them clearly to label products from Israeli settlements. The statement read:

"Importers, retailers, NGOs and consumers have asked the government for clarity over the precise origin of products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories…The label 'West Bank' does not allow consumers to distinguish between goods originating from Palestinian producers and goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements."

The Israelis have rightly said that this is tantamount to encouraging a boycott. And it is as clear an admission as you will get that anti-Israeli bigotry in mainstream society is now being listened to in government.

But again, let us simply concentrate on Britain's declared national interests.

Surely, even the British Foreign Office — which clearly rubber stamped the decision — must know that any peace agreement would inevitably involve land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians in which most settlements would become part of Israel anyway. This has been an accepted part of peace frameworks from the Clinton parameters, through Geneva to Annapolis. Most Palestinian factions do not even regard the matter as controversial — the big issues for them are Jerusalem and refugees.

At such a delicate time, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made concessions in the hope of kick starting talks and when the Obama administration is doing everything it can to get the two sides round the table, it is simply astounding that the British civil service should be kicking dust in everyone's face.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum.


Robin Shepherd

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


1 comment:

Salubrius said...

"The lunatics have taken over the asylum."

Nathanial Lee, in American Colonial times, as he was being carted off to the insane asylum, was heard to shout: "They said I was mad, and I said they were mad -- and Damn them, they outvoted me".

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