Published on 3 Dec 2012

Britain to withdraw her ambassador to Israel?

Has Israel finally overstepped the mark? Within 24 hours of the UN vote granting Palestinian “non-member statehood”, the Israeli government announced the building of 3,000 more Jewish settlement homes on Palestinian land in Arab East Jerusalem.

Israel may just have gone one step too far.  The move has triggered an international firestorm of criticism. From London to Washington, from Berlin to Paris, even including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, there has been some of the firmest criticism of the Israeli government seen in recent years. Ban Ki Moon warns that the 3,000 home settlement would destroy any prospect of a two-state peace negotiation.

This is getting serious. Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reports that Britain and France are considering withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel. Such a move would be without precedent.

The Israelis have gone further. On the heels of the UN vote, the Israelis have frozen the transfer of taxes they collect on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

In its six-decade existence Israel has rarely looked so isolated. That UN vote mustered the full panoply of frustration with the Israeli Government. That isolation is distilled in an article in the very same Haaretz newspaper.

The UN General Assembly voted 138 to nine, with 41 abstentions and five no-shows. The no votes were Israel itself, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Panama. Three of these — the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau are former US colonies which are now “freely associated” with the US. These entities enjoy US zip codes and much else that gives them the status of all but American states.

As my last Snowblog suggested, Britain has been stumbling towards being critical of Israel.  Foreign Secretary William Hague’s condemnation of the 3,000-strong settlement plan was more than strong by his standards.

But it’s hard to imagine that Britain would go so far as to withdraw her ambassador. If it happens hold the front page. It would represent the UK’s most decisive opposition towards the settlement campaign that has seen half a million settlers move into the occupied territories in the past decade.

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23 reader comments

  1. Alam says:

    Britain will always be a poodle to america and Isreal – its a simple fact. Isreal has been overstepping the mark for as long as i can remember and they’ve never been held accountable by the UN – because of the american Veto…its time we gave justice to all and also abolished this veto holding power in the UN. We talk about a one world policy where everyone is equal but the big powers continue to use the Veto powers to protect goverments that are carrying out attrocities. The best way to make Isreal change it’s policy is the same method used against Apartheid – to boycott isreali goods, to force companies who do business with isreal to de-invest etc etc….

    1. Dan Ehrlich says:

      first, learn tto spell Israel properly…and don’t talk about racism…most of the islamic world is racist…any people who tell you they are better than you because they are believers and you are an infidel is a racist.

      according to the UN, Israel has a higher quality of life for its citizens than does Britain, and that includes two million Israeli Arabs…the Palestinians could have peace and a state any time if their leaders so desired…but the don’t…

      How do you think it would be if the shoe was on the other foot…Arabs are gentle in their treatment of beaten people….ie, Darfur.

  2. syed says:

    Britain? Is main backer of zionists state! Britain will never widraw its ambassadors from Israel.Its just a drama what west is good at! No westen country withdrawn its ambassadors from Israel,when Israel bombs Palestinian and kills childerns! Israel zionist state already is build on occupied land.If America and west wanted to solve the issue of Palestinian and Israel they can do it in one day! but the truth is they don’t.

  3. Ashfak says:

    It would do a lot of benefit to world peace if they do withdraw their ambassador but I would never believe untill they have done it. At the end of the day Israel is on the worlds map because of these big powers pouring dollars into Israel economy!!

    1. Bonnie Prince Charlie says:

      Just remember, Ashfak and all others who call for the demise of Israel. It’s Israeli technology which is allowing you to participate in this blog. Personally I think you should boycott it – along with your mobile phone and your computer and most of the other electronic gadgetry on which you depend – and instead switch your allegiance to products designed and developed in the Arab/Muslim states.

      Encourage all your friends to boycott these goods. Join with me and make this boycott really hurt Israel. Or does that demand too much integrity?

  4. rsheppard says:

    Its time that the UK stood up for the rights of the palestinian people what hope do they have if they continually abuse by Israel. After all the UK cause many of the problems in the region by not arranging a peaceful transition in 1948.

  5. huzz says:

    Action is needed not empty words.

    1. Janet Green says:

      Absolutely – words very nice but its time to break with the tradition of condemning settlements and then carrying on business as usual. The current lack of action makes the UK and the rest of the EU complicit in the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people.

  6. Kunal Patel says:

    I think it’s good to see the western governments who voted against the Palestinian cause in the UN to criticise such a move from Israel. The fact that many told Palestine to have “certain” conditions if they were recognised as a non-member observer state to further peace negotiations at first seemed hypercritical especially on the case of demanding they do not go to the ICC. But now as Israel as shown sheer lack of interest in negotiations in with a recognised entity is a sad day in the middle east, hopefully it can be resolved peacefully.

  7. Jenny Hardacre says:

    About time. I am ashamed of Britain’s unwillingness to accord Palestinians the same rights as others.

  8. Mudplugger says:

    And while we’re at it, let’s kick Israel out of the Eurovision Song Contest – that’s probably the biggest sanction the craven, duplicitous Western governments would ever apply.

    It’s not in Europe, never has been, never will be – same goes for the European football competitions. Let’s get really tough.

  9. A Deiraniya says:

    It is high time our politicians showed more concern for our natiuonal interest and securityrather their parties’ funding. The unfaltering and blind support of the US Governement for Israel underpinned 9/11, the security measures at airports that bedevil the life of each and every air travellers. It is time Israel was shown the redcard and the west put the boot in. THere is no other nation that has defied the UN resolutions with such impunity.

  10. M Hirst says:

    When the Palestians started firing rockets at Israel who was called to the foreign office . Of course nobody everyone enjoys condemming Israel but never the terrorists from the west bank or Gaza. Maybe now its time to praise Israel for her years of patience.

  11. Gart Valenc says:

    It’s sad to see what has happened to you in the last two years. You have unceremoniously morphed from a combative, lucid and daring journalist into a timid, unimaginative and accommodating one. To me, Channel4News represented the standard good journalism should be measured by. Not any more!

  12. Dan Ehrlich says:

    I’ve been here 30 years and never tire of marvelling at the duplicitous nature of the British. You and America can carry for 18 years or so of Muslim conflict causing hundreds of thousands of casualities…and that’s OK,, because that’s why you have Red Poppy day…

    But let the Israelis talk about building a few flats in disputed land and the UK and Europe and Channel 4 becomes unglued….and why do the Israelis do it? Why not, either way they lose.

    If they give in to world pressure they lose. If they stick to their guns they lose…Yet, they know the only way to bring the Arabs to the conference table is by their own kind of pressure.
    The Arabs will only negotiate if it serves them well. If they can get what they want from the UN and not negotaite, why not?

    The Palestinian leadership has no desire toi make peace with Israel…neither the PLO or Hamas. They went to the UN to get what they want so they won;t have negotiate with Israel, a main condition being admitting that Israel is a Jewish state…and that’s because long range they dream of doing to Israel what they did to Lebanon.

    There’ s no place in Middle East for a non Muslim country.

  13. Fred Cowie says:

    Israel has consistently rejected/ignored many UN resolutions with no resultant sanctions/action from the UN, yet when the Palestinians have the ‘audacity’ to attempt even ‘observer’ status, they are threatened by the US with withdrawal of aid monies (blackmailed?) and Israel announces its continued advancement of the settlements in occupied territories, which is totally against international law.
    America has therefore shown itself unfit to be a peace-broker in this situation and Israel, obviously, has no interest in peace. Time for UN sanctions.

  14. Harvela says:

    What prevented the Palestinians from declaring independence at any time between 1947 and 1967 when there was no occupation and no settlements .
    The reality is that this was never about occupation but about Israel s very existence . Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005 , their reward for that some 12,000 rockets and mortars launched at their civilian population in the intervening years .
    Hamas has made clear that there will never be acceptance of a Jewish state in the region . Read their covenant .
    The PA are less overt in their rejection of Israel . They simply add the caveat that a peace treaty must include RoR for millions of second and third generation so called refugees thus achieving what could not be achieved through existential war and intifada .
    As for Jerusalem , Israel saw what happened to the Jewish quarter after it was captured by the Arab Legion in 1948 . History will not be repeated nor Jerusalem divided for it to happen again .
    Settlements are the result of the failed attempt in 1967 to destroy Israel . At some stage the Arabs must take responsibility for their intransigence and failure to accept Israel as the one nation state of the Jewish people .
    Palestinian independence will not come at the expense of Israels existence

  15. Bataween says:

    An outrageous display of international hypocrisy : thousands of civilians killed in Syria and not a peep – a plan to build housing in the desert on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and the world is in uproar.
    This land near Maaleh Adumim is disputed, but it is a lie propagated by the media to call it ‘occupied Palestinian’ land. This is state land whose ownership was never formally assigned since it was part of the Ottoman empire.
    The situation is far more complex than the media suggests. Before 1948, Jews owned land in east Jerusalem, including in the Maaleh Adumim area, Atarot and the Deheshe refugee camp. The Jewish National Fund had acres of land in the West Bank and in Syria. Some 17,,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from ‘Arab’ east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1948, as they were from 10 Arab states where their property was stolen or seized.
    If the Palestinians object to what the Israelis are doing why don’t they come to table and negotiate the borders of their state?
    No, they will not – because they don’t want peace. They want to keep the conflict with Israel going – if they can’t defeat Israel on the battlefield they will strive for political victory, strangulation, isolation and delegitimisation. And the world is playing along with their manipulative game, rewarding them with upgraded status at the UN.

  16. Meg Howarth says:

    When will we call Israel’s bluff?

    A one-state solution for the people of Palestine, not two.

    1. Bonnie Prince Charlie says:

      Dear Meg

      An interesting observation. Now would that be the one-state Palestine where no Jews would be allowed to live, according to President Abbas’s proclamation? Or the one-state Palestine where all the Jews would be killed in keeping with Article 7 of the Hamas Charter?

      I look forward to your response.

  17. Mike says:

    I’m not sure why the UK press (including C4News) perpetuates the myth that Israel would settle for the ‘two-state solution’.

    There are far too many Israeli voters who believe that God gave them ‘Judea and Sumaria’ and that, by-hook-or-by-crook, they will gradually win them back.

    israeli talk about ‘talks’ and ‘peace process’ is a smokescreen. As soon as we get anywhere near that point either the Israeli coalition government falls, or those against the peace-deal engineer a crisis by some targeted assassination, blockade etc.

    The history of the last 50 yrs is that the real policy in Israel is to continue the rhetoric of ‘peace talks’ while gradually, incrementally occupying Palestine. The latest decision to expand the settlements was not dreamed up in response to the UN vote – it was the next step on the plan, waiting for an excuse.

    1. mombser2 says:

      I think this really answers your point-
      Fri. 29 Jul. 2011 @ 13.06 –

      Hamas foreign minister reiterates Hamas’ rejection of two-state solution and commitment to gaining ‘Palestine in its entirety’ by force.

      Hamas’ foreign minister, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, recently conducted a television interview in which he once more set out Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist. He argued that ‘Palestine in its entirety is Islamic waqf land, which cannot be relinquished’:

      ‘At this moment in time, we say to you, first of all: We want Palestine in its entirety – so there will not be any misunderstandings. If our generation is unable to achieve this, the next one will, and we are raising our children on this. Palestine means Palestine in its entirety, and Israel cannot exist in our midst.’

      Al-Zahar also declared that Hamas would view any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, or a compromise agreement with the Palestinian Authority, as only a ‘first stage’ towards the destruction of Israel in its entirety. He asserted that this was the key difference between Hamas and their secular rivals, Fatah.

      How do you reflect on this?

  18. Bonnie Prince Charlie says:

    I presume that not everyone reading this blog knows that Jon Snow was – and perhaps still is, for all I know – a leading figure in Independent Jewish Voices, a quisling group of As-A-Jews who blame Israel for all the problems in the Middle-East, who have never been known to criticise Arabs / Palestinians for atrocities perpetrated against Israelis (and others), and who live under the illusion that if Israel were to simply hand back the settlements all would be peace and love.

    I wonder why he’s kept this quiet.

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