Shalom Life | October 14, 2014

UK Ambassador Says British Public Opinion Is Against Israel

Diplomats respond to British parliament's vote to recognize a Palestinian state

By: Attila Somfalvi

Published: October 14th, 2014 in News » World

Photo Caption: Britain's Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould

Photo Credit: Ofer Amram


Britain's ambassador to Israel says the British parliament's vote to recognize a Palestinian state shows the shifting public sentiment in Britain against Israel, while Israel's former ambassador to the US said Israel failed to respond to the move which could have negative implications for Israel.

Matthew Gould, Britain's ambassador to Israel, told Israel Radio on Tuesday that the symbolic vote in the House of Commons reflects the view of Israel following the war in Gaza.

Gould said: "I think it is right to be concerned about what it signifies in terms of the direction of public opinion."

Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told Ynet that the "support expressed by Britain for the establishment of the Palestinian state is much more important than the Swedish one, and is being underestimated."

The British vote followed an announcement by the new Swedish government that it would recognize Palestine is a state. Following outcry in Israel, the Swedish government toned down its position and said the recognition would take place only after peace talks.

According to Oren, "Britain is a member of the UN Security Council. The Palestinians are going to the UN in November and they want at least nine votes in the Security Council (to force Israel to commit to a timeline for withdrawing from the West Bank.) There is a chance America will abstain, but a lot of it is up to us."

Oren echoed Gould's claim, saying "Britain is one of our closest friends and allies, and still 274 parliament members supported the (non-binding) movement, with only 12 objecting."

Regarding the Palestinians UN Security Council bid, Oren shed light on additional implications the vote could have: "America currently does not accept the (resolution's) draft. But even if the Americans veto the resolution, with nine or ten votes that Palestinian will still be able to petition (The International Criminal Court in) The Hague.

"I am slightly shocked by the fact that we are not responding. The Palestinians are playing smart and we aren't responding," he said.

"Israeli society does not want to real with the implications. It is easy to deal with rockets, it is concrete and understandable. But we don't want to deal with a boycott," he lamented

Oren stressed that the vote did not signal a shift in British policy, but only reaffirmed Britain's position that it retains the right to recognize a Palestinians state when the time is right.

"We knew in advance that was the British position and is not changing."

Oren suggested Israel lead a counter-measure in response to the Palestinians diplomatic offensive: "Israel needs to lead a unilateral initiative, but that inspires discomfort here in Israel. Israel has never clearly said what its interests are in this regard. We need leadership and a little courage so as not to stay inactive in the face of recent developments."

Israel's Foreign Ministry said the vote undermines chances for peace because Palestinian statehood should result only from talks with Israel.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and other government leaders abstained from the vote Monday.

Reprinted with permission from Ynet News

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