France, Sweden and the UK have all summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their countries to protest Israel’s recent announcement that it’s planning construction in the area near East Jerusalem known as E1. The countries downplayed speculation that they would recall their own ambassadors to Israel, with a French Foreign Ministry official telling Reuters, “There are other ways in which we can express our disapproval.”
“We don’t want to shift into sanctions mode,” French President Francois Hollande said at a news conference, according to Reuters. “We are more focused on convincing.”
“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,” said Alistair Burt,
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Criticism of the knee-jerk response by the European countries came quick.
“Britain’s diplomatic position ought to be re-thought out given its objectives in this process. If we desire to see the two parties sit down and speak – which thus far has not occurred through Britain’s attempts to persuade the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table – this seems even less likely to be achieved though coercing the Israelis through threats like this,” Dr. Alan Mendoza, Executive Director at the Henry Jackson Society, told The Algemeiner.
“If we play too heavy a hand, we remove our ability to shape events. This is hardly an outcome I would have thought the FCO, with its vested interest in a negotiated two state solution, would welcome.”
“I think those who voted for the resolution in the UN ought to consider the consequences of that action in undermining the chances of a negotiated solution not the drawing of plans for an area that does not have to deny contiguity to any future negotiated settlement to the Palestinians,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told The Algemeiner.