Here’s an exclusive behind the scenes look at exactly what took place just before Christmas in the halls of UK government before Obama’s UNSC 2334 back stab of Israel at the UN Security Council.
The only real difference here is that this TV show from 1986 made the shocking assumption that the US would be the ones trying to pressure the UK into supporting Israel and the UK would be tending to side with the Arabs. Obama has reversed that.
As Stephen Pollard writes at the Jewish Chronicle, it does appear the whole UNSC vote was timed (during the Christmas holiday) specifically so that Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) civil servants could push the vote through without the elected officials like the Prime Minister Theresa May or the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson really knowing what was going on. Both were on holiday!
The initial draft of resolution 2334 was Egyptian but when it became clear that the US was willing to criticise Israel, British officials joined in trying to find a form of words that would satisfy the Americans.
Meanwhile, with Christmas hours away, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, was on holiday abroad. The shop was minded by Tobias Ellwood, the Middle East Minister. According to well-placed sources, this was the root of the problem to come. As a former ministerial colleague put it: “He was completely out of his depth. The officials ran rings round him.”
As I pointed out on Twitter when this whole story came up, I believe the Egyptians introduced the resolution purely so they could withdraw it because they are already aligned with Trump and against the outgoing Obama Administration. That didn’t work because the Obama Administration had lined up other countries to keep the resolution alive (including having sent Kerry all the way to New Zealand in advance to make sure the ducks were all in a row).
As the drafts emerged, FCO officials — who have traditionally regarded more pro-Israel politicians with a kind of bemused condescension — told Mr Ellwood this was in effect a private spat between the US and the Israelis.
Mr Ellwood was told the resolution was in fact an improvement on earlier drafts because it now included references to Palestinian terrorism. There was, they said, nothing in it that need trouble him or cause controversy.
Usually, an Israeli Ambassador would make clear any reservations and the Conservative Friends of Israel would weigh in with its own view. But almost the entire Westminster village had disappeared for Christmas. Lord Polak, CFI honorary president, was in Florida and Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador, was out of the country on holiday. A series of juniors were in charge. None appeared to grasp the storm about to break.
Israel completely dropped the ball here too. Netanyahu, who doesn’t have a proper foreign minister, should have called Theresa May on holiday and told her precisely what was going on while she was away. It appears that didn’t happen. Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador was away too. Behind the scenes, in all the policy forums I’m privy too, we all knew a storm was coming, it seems ridiculous that not enough was done.
Pollard goes on in the Jewish Chronicle to detail the make-goods Theresa May has done since but nothing detracts from the fact that Obama’s administration, specifically during a Lame Duck period, did everything possible and used every trick to stick a knife in Israel’s back. And the UK’s Camel Corps (FCO) was a willing accomplice in the deal.
Prime Minister: Surely we should promote peace, harmony, goodwill.
Sir Humphrey: Well, it would be most unusual. The U.N. is the accepted forum for the expression of international hatred.
Prime Minister: And defending democracy on St George’s?
Sir Humphrey: Not if it harms us by upsetting our friends.
Prime Minister: Britain should not support law and justice?
Sir Humphrey: Of course we should. We just shouldn’t let it affect our foreign policy, that’s all.