UK officials say they were behind UN settlements vote — report
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UK officials say they were behind UN settlements vote — report

While Netanyahu points finger at Obama, London says move was part of new strategy by PM May

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) enters the room followed by Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (R) at the start of a meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on December 20, 2016.   (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Carl Court)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) enters the room followed by Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (R) at the start of a meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on December 20, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Carl Court)

While Israeli officials have pointed the finger for last week’s UN Security Council anti-settlements resolution firmly at US President Barack Obama, senior UK officials reportedly said Thursday that the motion — submitted by New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia, Venezuela — was effectively a British initiative.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have insisted since Friday’s Security Council vote that there’s “absolutely incontestable” proof that the Obama administration pushed the resolution, and that “the United States was actually behind that gang-up,” respectively.

However, UK officials have stepped up in recent days to say the resolution was theirs, not the White House’s. The Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed senior British political source Thursday saying that by the time the text reached the 15-member body, it was “in effect a British resolution.” A day earlier, The Guardian reported Britain “played a key behind-the-scenes role” in ensuring the resolution passed.

Another British source told the Chronicle that the “yes” vote for the resolution was part of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s new strategy toward Israel, according to which the Jewish state’s friends have to take a stand against settlements to garner favor with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on the Israeli government and his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. December 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Israeli government and his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. December 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

May, the paper reported, deems settlements a major inhibitor to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and Resolution 2334 was “the first step in a re-emphasizing of longstanding UK policy against settlements,” a British source told the paper.

As part of his furious diplomatic response to the UN resolution, Netanyahu reportedly canceled a meeting with his British counterpart, a move a British official called “disappointing.”

Resolution 2334 passed 14-0 with the United States abstaining from the Friday night vote on the measure condemning Israeli settlements over the pre-1967 Green Line. The United Kingdom voted in favor of the resolution, which called Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem a violation of international law. Netanyahu accused the US of colluding with the Palestinians and helping draft the resolution.

The US has vehemently denied Israel’s charges, with Secretary of State John Kerry insisting the US “did not draft or originate” the resolution, introduced by Egypt and later, after Egypt withdrew it, by the four other nations.

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