Crowds gathered in Westminster on Sunday afternoon to demand answers as to why the British government supported the recent UN Security Council resolution proclaiming Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal.
Speakers at the protest, organised by the Zionist Federation, said the vote was further evidence of United Nations’ anti-Israel “bias”.
It was approved just days after former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted the number of resolutions targeting Israel was “disproportionate”, due to “decades of political manoeuvring”.
Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush told the crowd that the UN has passed 223 resolutions against Israel, but only eight against war-torn Syria.
JLC chief executive Simon Johnson asked: “Does anybody seriously think that this resolution will give the Palestinians any incentive to sit down and negotiate with the Israelis, which we know is the only way that there is any chance of securing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East?
“By taking this step, the United Nations have given a nod and a wink to the Palestinians that whenever they feel things are not going well with Israel, whenever they feel they want to put some pressure on Israel; all they need to do is turn to their friends in the UN Security Council, or in UNESCO, or in the United Nations Human Rights Council, and hey presto, a biased anti-Israel resolution will appear.”
Protesters responded with applause and cries of “shame” as speakers discussed the UK government’s vote against its ally.
Journalist Douglas Murray told the event that support for UNSC 2334 was “a bad and embarrassing blot on diplomacy”, that he hoped would retreat into history. “Friends do not kick friends in the back”, he declared.
In a message read out by protest organiser Arieh Miller, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer questioned British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft’s claim of having worked to secure a “balanced text”.
He said the resolution sent a message to Palestinians that it would be easier to rely on anti-Israel resolutions than to negotiate peace terms.
Retired British Army officer Colonel Richard Kemp revealed a “senior Foreign Office official” had privately told him: “They know these settlements are not illegal. The reason they say they are is to put pressure on Israel. That is duplicitous, dishonest and disgraceful.”
Kemp also warned of another anti-Israel resolution in the pipeline, masterminded by President Obama. He said the planned resolution, which could be voted on as early as 17 January, would lead to “recognition of a Palestinian state and a demand for the state of Israel to be defined on the 1967 borders”.
Britain would be able to stop this diplomatically if it chose to, but the intervention would need to come from Theresa May as the Foreign Office lacked “courage”, he said.