One of Benjamin Netanyahu’s most trusted diplomats has said Boris Johnson’s vow not to recognise Israeli sovereignty over annexed land makes for an “uncomfortable” position between the two states.
Ambassador Dore Gold, a senior envoy and former director-general of Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, said it was particularly uneasy because the British prime minister was seen as “a real friend of Israel” in Jerusalem.
Addressing a question from Jewish News, he said: “We’ve appreciated his positions in the past, and we coordinate closely with the British security establishment, so being in a position where we disagree with a political position put forward by the prime minister is not a comfortable position for us to be in.”
Gold is one of Israel’s most experienced diplomats, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, and remains a close confidante of Netanyahu in his position as president of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, so his views are sought-after.
Speaking during a webinar organised by UK-Israel think tank BICOM on Thursday, he said diplomats in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should “recall that Britain was one of the few countries that recognised Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank [in 1950]” which gave all residents automatic Jordanian citizenship.
“No-one in the Arab world recognised it except for Iraq, no-one in the Islamic world recognised it except for Pakistan, and certainly no-one in the European world recognised it, so what can I say? Britain took a position then that was unusual, it’s unusual today, although there are other European actors that also take that position.”
His comment follow the publication of an op-ed by Johnson in an Israeli newspaper, in which he said the UK would not recognise Israeli sovereignty of settlements or the Jordan Valley unless it is part of an agreement with the Palestinians.
“I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead,” he wrote. “If it does, the UK will not recognise any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties.”
He said he had followed the news of Israeli plans “with sadness,” adding that he felt it would “fail in the objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests”.