When it comes to UN resolutions involving Israel, Britain now votes according to the wishes of the Israeli Government, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle has revealed.
In an extraordinary article marked “EXCLUSIVE”, Stephen Pollard details exchanges between the office of Israeli premier Benyamin Netanyahu and Number 10 which resulted in Britain voting in favour of a report which condemned Israel’s actions in last summer’s Gaza war and accused it of war crimes.
Britain was set to support Israel’s public stance on the resolution and oppose the resolution. But on Friday morning Netanyahu rang David Cameron and asked him to support the resolution – because it represented a considerably watered-down version of an earlier one, Mr Pollard reveals.
Mr Cameron’s initial reaction was that it would be “pure madness”, particularly as he had made several strident statements voicing support for Israel recently.
However, Pollard explains, the Israelis feared that, had the watered down resolution been overturned, the original resolution on the report by the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry, which was far more condemnatory, would have been revived.
In the end the resolution was supported by 41 of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council, including Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Unaware of Netananyahu’s Machiavellian intervention, Mr Cameron was ironically widely accused by Israel supporters of duplicity and hypocrisy over the UN vote. This is because in April he declared public support for the “self defence” war in Gaza, where last summer Israel killed over 1,200 civilians including 550 children.
Highly placed Whitehall sources have confirmed to Pollard that “the Israelis regarded Friday’s UNHRC vote as being the lesser of two evils. Although accusing Israel of war crimes, it also held Hamas responsible, and marked a significant watering down of the original resolution put before the council.”
One source told the JC: “We thought this was extraordinary, to put it mildly, but decided to do as Israel asked.”
“Both the Israelis and the Brits will deny this”, the JC was told. “It sounds bonkers. But it’s true”.
The exchange between Netanyahu and No 10 confirms Mr Cameron’s suspicions of the Foreign Office in the region.
His chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, took personal control of the UNHRC vote. According to an inside source he was “all over it, to make sure we didn’t have an important FCO cock up”.
Pollard also reveals that on that Friday morning Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also called Angela Merkel and other European countries with the same extraordinary request that they vote against Israel and against Israel’s public opposition to the resolution. They all complied.
I have previously noted the growing influence on Number 10 wielded by the Conservative Friends of Israel. In the new Government, a leading light of the secretive and opaque CFoI, Robert Halfon, has been hugely promoted.