The United Kingdom reportedly refused to send a high-level delegation to the Paris peace conference in a bid to appease US President-elect Donald Trump.
Rather than send a minister or its ambassador in Paris to Sunday’s conference, which hosted representatives from 70 countries, the United Kingdom had junior diplomats attend, The Guardian reported.
That move was designed to placate Trump, the report suggested. The president-elect has reportedly conveyed to French diplomats his disapproval of the conference, which Israel rejected as “pointless.”
Representing the UK at the conference was the head of the Middle East desk of the Foreign Office, Michael Howells, as well as two advisers to the UK envoy to Paris, the report said.
The United Kingdom last month voted in favor of the UN Security Council resolution lambasting Israeli settlements, which passed after Washington refrained from exercising its veto.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has admitted to playing an instrumental role in drafting the resolution, which was fiercely criticized by Israel, though Jerusalem focused its condemnations on the United States, which allowed the resolution to pass by withholding its veto.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not speak to British Prime Minister Theresa May before the vote.
Days after the UN vote, the British prime minister’s spokesperson issued a highly unusual rebuke of US Secretary of State John Kerry for overly focusing on Israeli settlements during a post-vote December 28 speech, in which he defended the US abstention, bitterly attacked the settlement enterprise, and set out his thoughts on how to advance the peace process.
Just a week and half before the Security Council vote, May delivered a speech overflowing with praise and support for Israel. Addressing the Conservative Friends of Israel, the prime minister hailed the Jewish state as “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance.”
Ties with Jerusalem were “crucial,” she said, promising to raise the bilateral trade relationship to new heights and describing the Balfour Declaration as “one of the most important letters in history.”