The UK media again show their obsession with the ‘Israel lobby’

Just yesterday, we posted about a cartoon published at the Economist on Jan. 18 (which they later retracted) with imagery suggesting that pro-Israeli (or Jewish) interests control US Congress.  We noted that such narratives, on the injurious influence of organized Jewry (and their money), have become something akin to an enforced orthodoxy within many circles, especially among the “enlightened” British opinion elite.

Additionally, Donald Macintyre (Jerusalem correspondent for the Independent) published a report on Jan 21 titled ‘William Hague swims around the fishy issue of Iran‘, which began thus:

To contrast the attitudes of the US Congress and the British Parliament, start with Iran. Today, the palpable welcome by MPs for Tehran’s suspension of high-level  uranium enrichment was matched only by anxiety about the UN excluding Iran from the Syria talks that start today in Switzerland.

The unease emanated not only in Labour but on the government benches. John Baron, who pressed William Hague for early “normalisation” of UK-Iran diplomatic relations after an “encouraging start” to nuclear negotiations, is his own man. But he was backed by fellow Tory Phillip Lee who deplored the “overnight debacle” of the cancelled invitation and wanted “a Gorbachev-like” approach to “reform-minded Iranian politicians”.

Many MPs, in other words, want to go further, faster in rapprochement, with Iran. Contrast that with Congress, where many members have been pressing for sanctions to be tightened. All of this makes it hard not to conclude that one difference is the much greater power wielded by the Israel lobby in the US legislature than in its British counterpart.

First, the Indy journalist conflates two separate issues: talks taking place in Switzerland today aimed at resolving the Syrian Civil War (known as Geneva II) on one hand, and an interim nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers (the P5+1) on the other.  While the role played by the ‘Israel lobby’ in influencing Congressional support for increased US sanctions against Iran is itself far less than clear, there is no evidence of any such lobbying on either side of the Atlantic to scuttle Iran’s participation in Geneva II.

More importantly, it’s quite remarkable that Macintyre – a journalist known for his exclusive investigations - failed to provide even a hint of evidence to back up his claim that only the contrasting strengths of the US and British ‘Israel lobbies’ could explain the differing government approaches to issues related to Iran. It’s as if, for Macintyre and those similarly subscribing to “the party of Mearsheimer and the clique of Walt“, no other explanation is even conceivable.  

A more astute observer of the American political scene, however, would of course recognize that the “power” of the lobby is primarily merely a reflection of the organic popularity of the issues they’re campaigning for. In fact, polls of American public opinion consistently demonstrate that Israel is extremely popular among all groups, while Iran is consistently disliked.  The following poll of Americans conducted by Gallup in 2013 reveals that Iran is in fact the least popular foreign country, while Israel is the sixth most popular foreign country.

gallup

Such data indicating that Iran is extremely unpopular would of course help contextualize more recent polls indicating that a plurality of Americans disapprove of the agreement between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear program due, it seems, to their skepticism that Tehran would actually abide by the terms of any such deal.  Gallup reported that “62% of those polled believe that Iranian leaders are not serious about addressing international concerns about their country’s nuclear enrichment program compared with just 29% who think they are serious.”

It should be clear to the Indy journalist that Congressional support for Iran sanctions accurately reflects American public opinion on the issue, and, more broadly, that the conventional wisdom about supposed ‘root causes’ of US policy – which risibly often passes as ‘progressive’ political thought – is facile, often tinged with bigotry and empirically inaccurate. 

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New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.

The Telegraph’s 14 weaselly words about the power of ‘the lobby’

It’s less than clear how Telegraph Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer views the nuclear deal recently signed in Geneva, but in his latest report he certainly seems to take pleasure in the Israeli prime minister’s profound disappointment over the terms and implications of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1.

spencer

Spencer’s story, titled ‘Iran nuclear deal: Israel rages and no one cares‘, Nov. 24, begins thusly:

Everyone expected Israel‘s furious response to the Iranian nuclear deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had used every weapon in his considerable diplomatic and rhetorical arsenal to oppose one, up to hand-drawn drawings at the United Nations Security Council of circular bombs with cartoon fuses to illustrate his “red lines”.

What fewer can have expected is that no one would listen.

 Then, after citing statements by UK Foreign Minister William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry he interprets as dismissive of Israeli concerns, he writes the following:

If ones takes Israel’s public position at face value, however, it is hard not to ask how it got itself into a position where its wishes could be ignored by its closest ally, the United States (an ally that according to popular opinion its Washington lobbies have in their pockets).

One answer might be the extraordinary, prickly, combative persona of Mr Netanyahu.

Of course, there is another answer to the question of why the American president didn’t take Israel’s concerns about the deal into consideration that Spencer didn’t explore: the possibility that the narrative suggesting that ‘pro-Israel lobbies have the U.S. government “in their pockets” has no foundation in reality, and represents the kind of crude, simplifying hypotheses fancied by weak minds, conspiracists and bigots who can’t grapple with the complexities of the world.  

ShowImage

Ar-Risala, June 22, 2008
Headline: “The Wagon [that gets you] to the White House.”

images

Two papers published the same cartoon: Al-Watan, June 10, 2008 and Arabnews, June 11, 2008

Zionist lobby with Obama and Clinton in pocket

Akhbar al-Khalij, June 9, 2008
The bearded man is labeled: “Zionist Lobby” and has then Senator Barack Obama in its pocket, and Obama has Senator Hillary Clinton in his pocket.

Though Spencer doesn’t explicitly endorse this ‘Zionist root cause’ scenario, his failure to dismiss it provides succor to the alarming number of putatively mainstream commentators who, as Leon Wieseltier wrote, continue to “proclaim in all seriousness, without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea, that Jews control Washington.” 

Editor’s Note: The title was amended at 12:00 EST to more accurately reflect the substance of the post

US Congressional resolution supporting Israel makes Glenn Greenwald’s head explode

Western government support for Israel’s right to defend it’s citizens against Hamas really infuriates some people.

Those who routinely demonize the Jewish state and parrot the most ludicrous claims about Israeli villainy – and excuse or ignore the racism, incitement and violence of Islamist extremists in the region – simply can’t wrap their mind around the fact their anti-Zionist view is extremely marginal.

The mind of Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell was evidently ready to explode upon hearing the expressions of support for Israel by British foreign secretary William Hague and former PM Tony Blair. So, Bell expressed, in cartoon form, his belief that the only possible explanation for this maddening political dynamic is the puppeteer like control exercised over the subservient British leaders by Israel’s Prime Minister.

Another ‘anti-Zionist head-exploding’ moment occurred when the U.S. House and Senate overwhelmingly passed non-binding resolutions backing “Israel’s right to self-defense”.

There’s nothing unusual about such a resolution, as popular support for Israel in America, based on polling by Gallup over the last 45 years, has been consistent and overwhelming - a fact which CiF contributor Glenn Greenwald, whose fear of powerful Jewish forces in the U.S. borders on the conspiratorial, simply can’t fathom.

He expressed his frustration today, thus: 

Poor Glenn. The Congressional resolutions, which audaciously affirmed that “no nation”, including Israel, “can tolerate constant barrages of rockets against its civilian population”, actually passed unanimously

In his essay on Nov. 2011, on ‘averting accusations of antisemitism‘, Guardian readers editor Chris Elliott warned Guardian journalists and commentators to avoid “antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control.”

Elliott also noted that “three times” he had “upheld complaints against language within articles [which] could be read as antisemitic”, such as his decision to delete the term “slavish” (to describe the US relationship with Israel) from a report by Chris McGreal.

Glenn Greenwald’s characterization of the democratically elected U.S. legislative body as “subservient” to Israel (and/or the Jewish lobby) similarly contains antisemitic undertones, but also represents, to quote Walter Russel Mead, a sign that the ‘Comment is Free’ contributor is among those who are “baffled, frustrated and the bewildered” and therefore “seek[s] a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.”

“Anti-Semitism”, wrote Mead, “is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”

The anti-Zionist left is increasingly defined as much by their intellectual laziness as they are by their blind subservience to the logic of historically right-wing Judeophobic narratives regarding the dangers of Jewish control.

Denis MacEoin’s letter to William Hague concerning Jerusalem

(The following letter was written by Dr. Denis MacEeoin and sent separately to William Hague, Alistair Burt and Simon Fraser at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It concerns the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. MacEoin is editor of Middle East Quarterly and blogs at ‘A Liberal Defence of Israel‘ – A.L.)

Dear Mr Hague:

I write in support of a petition I have recently signed, asking the British Foreign Office to alter its position on what has become an unnecessarily vexed question concerning the capital of Israel. As you know, Israelis are unanimous in regarding Jerusalem as their capital, not Tel Aviv (where the British embassy is currently located), nor Haifa nor Jaffa nor Petah Tikva nor anywhere else in the country. 

It is not hard to understand why the first Israeli parliament chose Jerusalem as its seat, even before it had built an edifice suitable to the needs of the men and women who sat in its chamber.  For many centuries, Jews in the Diaspora had clung to a hope, not only of a return to the Holy Land, but to Jerusalem in particular, the erstwhile home of its holiest Temple and the scene of so many primary events in Jewish and Christian history. This might be dismissed on the grounds that religious belief should not determine a city’s status, but many cities derive their significance from their role as religious centres, from Mecca and Medina (the latter having been the first capital of Islam), to Karbala’ and Mashhad, to Varanasi (Benares) and the Vatican City. This original attachment, intensified by daily prayers while facing Jerusalem and repeated wishes to return there, was later supplanted by the governmental, educational, trading, defensive, legal and bureaucratic concerns of the capital of a secular state.

As a people who have been deeply wronged in the past, Jews have tried to build their own state along lines of equal citizenship, a single legal system, human rights, and the protection of all holy places. But when Jordan occupied East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, Muslim holy places were renovated while 58 synagogues were destroyed and 38,000 Jewish graves were demolished. In addition, Jews were not allowed to set foot in their own holy places, notably on the Temple Mount. By contrast, when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967, the Temple Mount was handed to a Muslim authority on account of two Islamic structures built on top of it, the al-Aqsa mosque and the Qubbat al-Sakhra or Dome of the Rock.

Such depredations and a lack of reciprocity have made Israelis wary of a Muslim takeover of East Jerusalem, where the holiest sites are located: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall (the Kotel), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and the famous Jewish graveyards, still vandalized horribly by Arab criminals.

But the Palestinians have made it their business to turn Jerusalem into a bastion of Islamic holiness, not just because the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock are there, but because they now claim that there has never been any Jewish connection to the city or to the land of Israel. There was, they boast, no Jewish Temple there. All Biblical references to the Temple and to Jerusalem as a city built by King David are summarily and ahistorically dismissed. 

Given that Muslims have demolished the holy places of more than one religion, the Jews are rightly concerned lest Jerusalem fall under Islamic control. In Saudi Arabia for decades now, the government has been engaged in the destruction of Islamic holy places in Mecca and Medina. Lest you think me in the grip of some obscure fantasy, I should explain that the Wahhabi form of Islam, which governs Saudi Arabia, is utterly ruthless in its condemnation of anything that may be worshipped instead of God. They have demolished over 200 historical sites to prevent pilgrims praying at them. In Mali, a similar form of Islam – Salafism – has recently demolished dozens of shrines belonging to the Sufi form of Islam. And in Iran, the government has demolished all the holy places and cemeteries of the persecuted Baha’i religion. Israel, by way of contrast, protects and nourishes the large international headquarters and two holiest shrines of the Baha’is, places now recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Is it surprising that the Israelis, backed by Jews and others like myself round the world, are desperate to maintain the integrity of the city, knowing as they do that Muslim Arab rule would carry a greatly heightened risk to the Old City and its environs? Israel has been generous towards Muslims and their holy places, but they fear that if increased pressure were to come from Saudi Arabia or Iran or, nearer to hand from Hamas, everything Jewish might be eliminated. Palestinians have taken control of the Jewish Tomb of Rachel, the third holiest site for Jews. They have commandeered most of the Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and made access for Jews to a tiny space very difficult, as I can personally attest. This is the second holiest site for Jews, containing as it does the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.

In the earliest days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad adopted from his Jewish neighbours the practice of turning towards Jerusalem during the five daily prayers. But in the year 622, a few months after his arrival in Medina, he did an about turn during one prayer session and from then on directed his followers to pray towards his home city of Medina. He severed all direct ties with Jerusalem, and in the centuries that followed Jerusalem was never a provincial capital, nor the heart of a Muslim country or empire. Medina in the first years, then Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul and other cities became the capitals of Islam. Cairo was the major city in North Africa, Fez and Rabat capitals of the west, Esfahan, Tabriz, Tehran and others the royal cities of Iranian dynasties. And so on. But Jerusalem was never given such signal importance. This is significant. Palestinian wishes to make Jerusalem defy centuries of insignificance would lock us into a dispute that could last one thousand years.

For this reason, Jews everywhere will refuse to relinquish a city that was theirs from the beginning, and they will not reward people who have tried to take what was never theirs, who have tried to deny the historical record concerning the Jewish presence in a city that has been Jewish for 3000 years. To confirm the place of Jerusalem at the heart of Jewish life and prayers and as the eternal capital of their only homeland, Jews and Israelis appeal to honest governments to do the right thing and recognize that Jerusalem is the city where all the key aspects of Israeli life converge. No Israeli regards Tel Aviv as his or her capital. It is demeaning to treat Israelis as children by telling them this or that foreign government knows better than they and their government when it comes to designating Jerusalem their capital. I do not think you treat any other capital city in this way. You do not call Cork the capital of Ireland, nor Glasgow the capital of Scotland, nor the cathedral city of St. David’s the capital of Wales, nor Marseilles the capital of France. I do not believe the Foreign Office means to be insulting in this matter; but if foreigners called Birmingham the capital of England and the UK, would you not feel aggrieved?

Israel’s enemies call in all seriousness for the destruction of the country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on all Islamic nations to ‘exterminate Israel’ (my translation). The Arabs, faced by their repeated failure to achieve this by military means or terrorism, have turned to secondary means, saying that there never any Jews in Israel, that they themselves were there first, an impossible 9000 years ago, and that Jerusalem was always an Arab city (a claim that directly contradicts the accounts of Arab historians like al-Tabari). It is a cheap and dishonest attempt to rewrite history itself and to introduce confusion into a simple narrative. Denying the historicity and modern reality of Israel, of Jerusalem, and of Israelis by refusing to liberate the city from the string of fictions that has tied so many in knots, allows falsehood and deceit to rule in international affairs. Britain is still a great country that is admired the world round for its probity. I do not doubt that you, like myself, wish to see that image remain untarnished. But I have to say that it is in some measure tarnished when you try to steal the Israeli capital from the Israelis themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Denis MacEoin

British diplomats behaving badly in Israel

This essay was written by Hadar Sela and published at The Commentator

In April 2011 the world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and next year will also mark 50 years since the signing of the related Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Both these documents contain an identical clause (in the former, article 41 and in the latter, article 55) regarding “Respect for the laws and regulations of the receiving state”:

Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.” (emphasis added)

In light of this internationally accepted wording, let us consider the information provided on the website of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv (and recently promoted by it on social media outlets) in its “Human Rights: Quarterly Update” report. (Emphasis added)

“The UK welcomes Israel’s decision on 4 October to raise the age of legal majority for Palestinian children in the Israeli military justice system. When fully implemented, this will be an important step towards protecting children’s rights in the West Bank. We continue to lobby for further improvements…” 

“The UK remains concerned by legislation proposed in the Israeli Knesset that would limit foreign funding of NGOs. This would have a serious impact on projects funded from the UK and elsewhere to support universal rights and values and would be seen as undermining the democratic principles the Israeli state is founded on. The passing of legislation is a matter for the Israeli Knesset and we note Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to suspend discussion of the bills. We will continue to monitor this issue and raise our concerns with senior Israeli officials as needed.”

“We continue to monitor and lobby on the Praver Plan…” 

“The British Consulate in Jerusalem and EU Partners monitored the demonstration in the village of Nabu Salehtwice in December and have raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities.”

“On 28 November, the British Consul-General attended the trial with his German, French and Spanish counterparts.  We will continue to have an EU diplomatic presence at every trial..” 

“We continue to monitor legislation that could have negative repercussions on Israel’s minorities. We have lobbied the Israeli government at a senior level on the potential discriminatory repercussions of a new affirmative action bill for those who do not undertake military service…”

“We remain concerned about the progress of certain Knesset draft bills that could discriminate against minorities and limit the operations of NGOs which are critical of government policy.”

There are many more examples in the report itself and the picture is clearly one of a foreign diplomatic mission which is riding roughshod over its obligation “not to interfere in the internal affairs” of its host state.

Although the report does not cite the sources for many of its highly contentious claims, anyone familiar with the situation on the ground will recognise in this report the fingerprints of some of the many politically-motivated NGOs posing as human rights organisations which operate in the region

Read the rest of the essay here

Britain pledges continued support for Goldstone report against Israel, even as Goldstone retracts allegations

Robin Shepherd’s new online magazine, The Commentator, has just gone live, and today’s lead story, on the appalling decision by the UK Foreign Office to continue their support for the Goldstone Report even after Goldstone retracted its most serious allegation, is well worth the read:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

The British Government is standing by the United Nations Goldstone Report alleging that Israel committed “war crimes” in its Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 even though Justice Richard Goldstone has now distanced himself from his report’s most controversial conclusions.

On Friday, Goldstone wrote a piece in the Washington Post in which he stunned diplomats, politicians and analysts by withdrawing the allegation that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians during the 22-day conflict. He said: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

The Foreign Office, however, confirmed its continued support for investigations into Cast Lead and said it did not want to see the withdrawal of the Goldstone Report from the United Nations.

“Justice Goldstone has not made such a call, and he has not elaborated on his views surrounding the various other allegations contained in the report, allegations which we firmly believe require serious follow-up by the parties to the conflict,” a Foreign Office spokesman told the Commentator on Monday evening.

In his piece, entitled “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes”, Goldstone admitted that it was now clear that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”. With reference to evidence provided by Israel, he added: “…I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes”.

Read the rest of the story, here.

Another Guardian ‘don’t mention the war’ moment

We were informed by Julian Borger writing on Comment is Free on March 7th that the British government has chosen to upgrade the status of the Palestinian representatives in London to that of a diplomatic mission.

William Hague said that Britain had upgraded the status of Palestinian diplomats in the UK, in a largely symbolic move aimed at encouraging progress in peace talks with Israel.”

“British officials said the only real change in the work of Palestinian diplomats will be that they will be given parking spaces by Westminster council, and find it easier to get British visas for their staff.”

So much for the famed Israeli intelligence then: how come we didn’t know until now that the real reason the Palestinians could not come to the negotiating table was because they were too busy looking for a vacant parking meter in Westminster and filling in all those UK immigration forms in quadruplicate?

“This really reflects our acknowledgement of Palestinian progress in achieving administrative goals in building institutions and in progress made in fulfilling the road map,” a British official said.”

Errm… sorry to be a pain and all that, Mr. British official,  but exactly which clauses of the Road Map have the Palestinians made progress in fulfilling?

Clause one of the Road Map reads as follows:

“At the outset of Phase I:

  • Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.
  • Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.”

(my emphasis)

Not only have the Palestinians repeatedly refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, not only have they released Hamas terrorists responsible for the murders of Israeli citizens without bothering to put them on trial, not only is there the not so small matter of thousands of rockets and mortars still being fired at Israeli civilians, but their official institutions continue to spew daily incitement against Israel.

In fact at the very moment that Mahmoud Abbas was enjoying British hospitality in London, a youth centre back home near Ramallah announced that it will be running a football tournament named after a suicide bomber. Of course the likelihood of William Hague bringing that subject up over the hors d’oeuvres is about as great as the possibility that the Guardian might see fit to mention such a move on its pages, let alone criticize it.

Once again British soft bigotry reigns supreme. After all, neither the Foreign Office nor the Guardian would look kindly upon the naming of a sports tournament after Mohammed Sidique Khan by a Dewsbury youth centre, so why do they consider such a move acceptable – and indeed unremarkable – in Palestinian Authority controlled areas? And why do they continue to lie, both to themselves and the British public, about ‘progress made in fulfilling the Road Map’?

As for those lauded achievements in ‘ building institutions’, well obviously they do not include freedom of the press or trade unions within the Palestinian Authority, or even such basic things as putting an end to torture, equal rights for women and minorities, holding elections on time or balancing the budget.

It gets worse, however. Not content with distorting the truth by omission, the Guardian’s Diplomatic Editor goes on to faithfully repeat the party line: it’s all about the settlements, innit?

“The “road map”, promoted by the Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, is intended as a framework for achieving a settlement, but it has long been stalled over the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”

In fact, as the ‘Palestine papers’ – recently leaked by the Guardian itself in collaboration with Al Jazeera – show, Palestinian negotiators were able to talk with their Israeli counterparts as recently as late 2008 without the issue of construction in Judea & Samaria preventing them from doing so. Only when a rookie US President brought up the subject did the PA suddenly get struck conveniently dumb and that silence was not cured by a ten month building freeze.

How exactly the British government or any other members of the Quartet (along with the bien pensants at the Guardian) think that any sort of peace agreement is reachable whilst terrorists are still being glorified by Palestinian society in general and with the encouragement of EU and US funded PA institutions is beyond all logic. Until the Quartet decides to take up the challenge of facing up to PA incitement and glorification of terror – and seeing as it holds the purse strings, that should not be too difficult a task – no significant progress can be made in implementing the Road Map or any other agreement.

But for now, all the players of influence choose to circle around the issue of PA incitement and pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead they hand out rewards such as this diplomatic upgrade, accompanied by the usual platitudes, whilst demanding nothing in return from the Palestinian side.

Basil Fawlty would doubtless be proud.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and the implied threat of a “one state solution”

Harriet Sherwood summed up the British Foreign Secretary’s two day visit to Israel last week in an article which raises quite a few questions with regard to the British government’s policies and attitudes towards Israel, in addition to those already prompted by David Cameron’s “prison camp” remarks made in Ankara.

First, however, let’s take a look at some of the comments prompted by this article. A significant proportion of them seemed to accept unquestioningly Hague’s dubious axiom whereby the so-called ‘window of opportunity’ for a two-state solution to the conflict is closing, and duly leapt in with their own suggestion – the somewhat hackneyed ‘one-state solution’.

Obviously ‘NoNukesPlease’ has never heard of this institution in Jerusalem.

That seems to sound like a threat of violence.

 

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