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UK-Israel relations cool after United Nations Security Council vote

Britain's key role in drafting UN anti-settlement resolution part of new strategy towards Jerusalem

    UN Security Council
    UN Security Council

    The UK’s relationship with Israel is set to cool dramatically under Theresa May in the aftermath of UN Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements, which was passed last week.
    After the US refused to veto the resolution, the Israeli government reacted with fury directed at the Obama administration.
    But it emerged this week that it was British diplomats who worked to ensure it passed.
    A senior British political source told the JC that it was “in effect a British resolution” by the time it reached the Security Council. 
    Another Westminster source said the British adoption of the resolution was part of a new strategy towards Israel by Mrs May, who believes Israel’s friends must make their opposition to settlements clearer if they are to carry any weight with the Palestinians.
    The source told the JC Mrs May considered Israeli settlements one of the main obstacles to peace talks and that last week’s UN move was “the first step in a re-emphasising of long-standing UK policy against settlements.” 
    Three weeks ago, Mrs May told the Conservative Friends of Israel annual lunch: “We must be honest with our friends, like Israel, because that is what true friendship is about. That is why we have been clear about building new, illegal settlements: it is wrong; it is not conducive to peace; and it must stop.”
    On Tuesday, Haaretz newspaper in Israel revealed that after the Egyptians had bowed to an Israeli request to withdraw their original resolution, the British UN delegation focused on persuading New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela to move ahead with a redrafted version.
    Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s diplomatic editor, wrote: “British legal figures and diplomats had been working directly with the Palestinians on the wording of the resolution even before it was distributed by Egypt the first time on Wednesday evening. According to the Israeli diplomats, the British did this secretly.”
    The JC understands the UK worked for days to find a form of words that the US would be happy with, to give the Americans “clean hands, so they could say they did not formulate the resolution but merely let it pass”, as the source put it.
     

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