Britain has blocked a French initiative to have the European Union push for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to diplomats quoted in Israeli news outlet Haaretz, Britain’s veto meant that the EU Foreign Affairs Council could not adopt the position agreed during Sunday’s Paris Peace Conference, in which the UK refused to sign the agreed statement.
Among the 70 nations represented in the French capital at the weekend, Britain only attended as observers, having sent a junior delegation to an event. Britain refused to sign the end-of-conference summation, citing “particular reservations” and saying “there are risks this conference will harden positions”.
Then on Monday, British diplomats torpedoed the French request that the EU adopt the agreed position, according to Times of Israel.
It comes a day after incoming U.S. President Donald Trump urged Britain to block any further resolutions on Israel.
“We were expecting the United Kingdom, in particular, to play an effective role in the international system that rejects the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise,” Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement released Monday evening, hours after the government of Prime Minister Theresa May blocked the French effort to have the European Union endorse the peace summit statement.
“The United Kingdom should revise its positions by holding Israel accountable, as well as support the Palestinian and international initiatives. It is time to end the historic injustice that befell our people who will soon mark the anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration.”
Hanan Ashrawi, another senior PLO official, charged that instead of “rectifying its historical responsibility” for the Palestinian “tragedy,” London is “compounding its culpability.”
Several other countries, including Hungary and Lithuania, joined Britain’s reservations over the summit’s statement according to Haaretz. Since resolutions in the Council must be passed unanimously, the French move was blocked.
A senior European diplomat who attended the Council’s meeting told Haaretz that Britain’s action angered many EU members. The diplomat said, “The Brits read what Trump said and implemented it immediately. It’s madness. Just three weeks ago the Brits pushed for UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on the settlements and voted for it, and now they’re blocking resolutions on the matter at the Foreign Affairs Council.”
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