September 21, 2010
As the 10-month deadline approaches there is talk of Prime Minister Netanyahu agreeing to a continuation of the moratorium on building projects beyond the 1947 armistice lines, in exchange for the US release of Stephen Pollard.
This got me thinking. Assuming that an extension of the freeze is politically possible within Israel (I don't know if it is), it strikes me that the British FO is just as keen to see that happen as the US government. Clearly the mandarins in Whitehall are panicking about Abu Mazen using settlements as an excuse to ditch negotiations and are working themselves into a lather about the possible implications of a collapse in talks.
So I think it would not be unreasonable for Israel to request some concessions from Britain in exchange for this, and I thought it would be interesting / fun to try and think of a few. Who knows, maybe someone in high places may read it and get some ideas.
1) Upgrading of EU relations
In April 2009 the EU suspended the process of upgrading Israel's relationship with the EU, citing the government's unwillingness to resume negotiations based on where Olmert left off - the real reason, I suspect, was that the EU saw it as politically unpalatable in the wake of Cast Lead. Britain should lobby for this process should be resumed forthwith.
2) Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital city
Britain has never recognised Jerusalem as the administrative capital of Israel and all of Britain's diplomatic offices are in Tel Aviv. Another minor concession but a huge gesture of goodwill from the UK.
3) A State Visit by the Queen
In Israel's 62 year history, Her Majesty has never once visited Israel. Considering that she has been sent to Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria... (etc.. full list here) it seems a peculiar form of disrespect that she has never once set foot in Israel.
Does anyone else have any ideas?