UK threat to Israel over settlement building

The British government is threatening to remove its Ambassador from Israel as the Jewish State reopens settlement building plans in response to the Palestinian statehood bid

by The Commentator on 3 December 2012 10:14


Britain has today threatened to recall its ambassador to Israel over the row over settlement building.

Since the Palestinian Authority's UN statehood bid last week, tensions between Western governments and Israel have run high, as Israel has sought to penalise the Palestinians for seeking a unilateral solution to the peace process and ruling out negotiations with Israel.

Embarrasingly for Britain, the argument is now reaching its peak with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office threatening trade sanctions and even the withdrawl of Britain's ambassador, a move that will likely illicit poor reactions from the Israelis given Britain's recent cowardice on the UN vote and increasing irrelevance in the peace process.

The recent authorisation of new settlement homes in the E1 area of Jerusalem are a continuous sticking point for foreign leaders who fail to understand Israel's quagmire in attempting to deal with, as well as financially prop up the Palestinian Authority while taking much of, if not all of the flack for the failure of peace negotiations.

E1 is incredibly sensitive as development would close off East Jerusalem – a likely future capital of Palestine – from the West Bank.

The Commentator's sources have stated that while this may be an empty threat, the government is on course to isolate itself from its allies in Israel and the United States, a development that could negatively impact trade relations with two key economic partners.

Speaking today, a Foreign Office spokesperson said:

“We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block. This threatens the viability of the two state solution.

“We have called on the Israeli government to reverse this decision. The Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, has been formally summoned to the Foreign Office this morning by the Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt. The Minister set out the depth of the UK’s concerns.

“Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and European Union.” 


Responding to reports that the British Government is considering tough diplomatic action against Israel, Director of CFI Stuart Polak said:

“The reported and unprecedented threat to recall the British Ambassador to Israel was a miscalculation on the part of the British government. Though the Foreign Office has more or less now ruled this out, the consideration alone, alongside that of possible trade sanctions, is a sign that Britain is approaching this issue in the wrong way.

“Israeli announcements regarding settlements are unhelpful but Britain’s response will only serve to inflame the already fragile situation in the region. The UK risks permanently reducing our ability to play a positive and supportive role in the peace process.”

“Britain ought to be working closely with both Israel and the Palestinians to ensure an immediate return to direct negotiations.”

UPDATE - The FCO is now claiming that it will not be recalling the British Ambassador

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