The United Kingdom defied the anti-Israel sentiment coursing through Sunday’s “peace” summit in Paris by criticizing the conference as detrimental to Israel’s interests and refusing to sign a joint statement issued after the summit which called for a two-state solution.
In a statement released by the UK’s Foreign Office, UK officials said they had had “particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them,” referring to the blatant lack of representatives from Israel or the Palestinian contingent.
The statement also referenced the inauguration of Donald Trump, arguing that the timing of the conference “just days before the transition to a new American President” rendered moot any agreement, of which the US would eventually be the “ultimate guarantor.”
Essentially, the conference would “harden positions” of Palestinian negotiators rather than encourage conditions for peace, the statement continued.
According to the UK spokesperson, Britain had attended the summit as an “observer.” It did not send high-level diplomats, sending instead three low-level representatives in a move which British press said was intended to appease Donald Trump, who reportedly disapproved of the conference. Indeed, in an interview with London’s Sunday Times, Trump had called on Britain to protect Israel on the international scene until he entered office.
While the Paris summit’s participants submitted a statement calling for a negotiated two-state solution in Israel (the conference’s only concrete result), the UK delegation refused to sign it.
On Monday, the day after the conference, the UK successfully blocked a French initiative to have the summit statement adopted by the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council.
“We will continue to support efforts to improve conditions on the ground to enable negotiations to resume and look forward to working with the parties, the new US Administration and other countries represented in this conference to make progress in 2017 and beyond,” read the Foreign Office statement.