British diplomats behaving badly in Israel
If the British government hopes to salvage any credibility as an 'honest broker' in the Middle East, it must rein in the Foreign office strongly and immediately
In April 2011 the world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and next year will also mark 50 years since the signing of the related Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Both these documents contain an identical clause (in the former, article 41 and in the latter, article 55) regarding "Respect for the laws and regulations of the receiving state":
"Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State." (emphasis added)
In light of this internationally accepted wording, let us consider the information provided on the website of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv (and recently promoted by it on social media outlets) in its "Human Rights: Quarterly Update" report. (Emphasis added)
"The UK welcomes Israel’s decision on 4 October to raise the age of legal majority for Palestinian children in the Israeli military justice system. When fully implemented, this will be an important step towards protecting children’s rights in the West Bank. We continue to lobby for further improvements…"
"The UK remains concerned by legislation proposed in the Israeli Knesset that would limit foreign funding of NGOs. This would have a serious impact on projects funded from the UK and elsewhere to support universal rights and values and would be seen as undermining the democratic principles the Israeli state is founded on. The passing of legislation is a matter for the Israeli Knesset and we note Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to suspend discussion of the bills. We will continue to monitor this issue and raise our concerns with senior Israeli officials as needed."
"We continue to monitor and lobby on the Praver Plan…"
"The British Consulate in Jerusalem and EU Partners monitored the demonstration in the village of Nabu Saleh twice in December and have raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities."
"On 28 November, the British Consul-General attended the trial with his German, French and Spanish counterparts. We will continue to have an EU diplomatic presence at every trial.."
"We continue to monitor legislation that could have negative repercussions on Israel’s minorities. We have lobbied the Israeli government at a senior level on the potential discriminatory repercussions of a new affirmative action bill for those who do not undertake military service…"
"We remain concerned about the progress of certain Knesset draft bills that could discriminate against minorities and limit the operations of NGOs which are critical of government policy."
There are many more examples in the report itself and the picture is clearly one of a foreign diplomatic mission which is riding roughshod over its obligation "not to interfere in the internal affairs" of its host state.
Although the report does not cite the sources for many of its highly contentious claims, anyone familiar with the situation on the ground will recognise in this report the fingerprints of some of the many politically-motivated NGOs posing as human rights organisations which operate in the region.
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