Israel’s supporters in the UK this week poured cold water on a letter signed by 127 Parliamentarians slamming Israel’s planned annexation of areas of the West Bank.
The letter, organised by the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), urged the Government to spell out that annexation would have “severe consequences including sanctions”.
MPs and peers from all political parties signed the letter, including several high-profile figures, but this week Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), the Zionist Federation (ZF) and a Lib Dem peer said sanctions were not the answer.
An LFI spokeswoman said the parliamentary group “unequivocally opposes any Israeli annexation in the West Bank” but said “unilateral steps are a barrier to peace”.
She added: “We also totally oppose imposing sanctions on Israel, a core demand of the pernicious and extreme BDS campaign. Sanctions would only serve to weaken those in Israel fighting annexation and embolden the right in their bunker mentality.”
Lib Dem peer Lord Monroe Palmer said “it shows that both sides need to get round a negotiating table,” adding: “I think some people are hasty to condemn but in this instance Israel isn’t helping itself, neither are the Palestinians.”
ZF chair Paul Charney said: “All past attempts at negotiated settlement have failed due to Palestinian intransigence, leaving Israel with little option other than to take unilateral steps to secure its borders and its future for all its citizens.”
He added that “Israel is a democratic state, led by a democratically elected government, and annexation will not change this”.