Head of Prominent UK Think Tank: Britain’s Vote in Favor of Anti-Israel UN Resolution Motivated by Obsession Over Settlements
Britain’s vote on Friday in favor of the UN Security Council resolution outlawing Israel’s presence beyond the 1967 borders was “motivated by an obsession about the importance of settlements in the Israel-Palestine question, usually to the detriment of far more important issues,” a Middle East expert and head of a prominent UK-based think tank told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Dr. Alan Mendoza, founder and executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, added, “Attacking settlements is also often seen as a sop to the pro-Palestinian lobby and Arabist elements in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as a way of showing them that UK policy — which in recent years has indeed been more pro-Israel than historically — is in some way balanced.”
Mendoza, who hosts the program “Current Affairs” on the Jewish Internet station J-TV, was responding to the question of why the British government, headed since July by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May — who has been vocal in her support for Jewish state; has adopted a working definition of antisemitism; and has welcomed the enhancement of London-Jerusalem ties – would back such a blatant indictment of what she herself has acknowledged to be the only democracy in the Middle East.
Mendoza said the move was not altogether surprising.
“British politicians who use pro-Israel language will almost always qualify it with a denunciation of settlement policy,” he noted. “Consequently, Prime Minister May, in an otherwise overwhelmingly pro-Israel speech at the recent annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, found time to condemn ‘illegal’ settlements and demand the Israeli government stop building them.”
In this respect, Mendoza said, the UK’s stance at the UN on Friday “reflected established government thinking.”
Nevertheless, he went on to say, “Legitimate questions should be asked about why the UK chose a biased forum in the form of the UN — with its history of virulent anti-Israel activity — to make its point. Equally supporting such a one-sided motion, which fails to condemn the Palestinians for their many obstructions to a collapsing peace process, whose failure has more to do with their intransigence than any Israeli settlement building, is clearly a mistaken way to advance peace within the region.”
Mendoza not only criticized Britain’s position vis-a-vis Israel, but called it self-defeating. “It will damage the UK’s goal of securing a two-state solution, and therefore should be considered an ‘own goal’ in terms of British diplomacy,” he said.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334 calls Israeli settlement activity a “flagrant violation” of international law, and states that “all measures aimed at changing the demographic composition and status of Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, including construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians are in violation of international humanitarian law, Israel’s obligation as the occupying Power…”
It also expresses “grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines” and “calls upon all states… to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the state of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
The resolution was adopted nearly unanimously, in a vote of 14-0, with only the United States abstaining. The countries, other than Britain, which supported it were: Russia, Angola, Ukraine, Japan, Spain, Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Senegal, Uruguay, France and China.
As The Algemeiner reported, Fatah — the leading political party in the Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas — posted a graphic on its official Facebook page on Saturday, suggesting that it was expressing gratitude to the UN Security Council for endorsing terrorism against Israelis.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded harshly to the passage of the resolution, and summoned ambassadors from the supporting countries for clarification and reprimand.
Meanwhile, the UK daily The Times reported on Monday that in protest over Britain’s backing of the resolution, Netanyahu canceled a meeting with PM May, which was ostensibly slated to take place next month on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
According to the report, the deputy chief of mission at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv called it a “disappointment that …Netanyahu does not want to have a conversation with Theresa May.”
This report came after a denial by Netanyahu’s office on Sunday night, however, that he had canceled the meeting, which — it said — was never formally scheduled. Nor did any official source inform 10 Downing Street of an imminent snub.