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UK May Withdraw Ambassador to Israel, France Seeks ‘Other ways’ to Protest E1 Plans

Sources have described "an appetite for action" within the Foreign Office.
Matthew Gould, Britain's first Jewish ambassador to Israel.

Matthew Gould, Britain's first Jewish ambassador to Israel.
Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90

Britain is considering withdrawing its ambassador to Israel following the decision to revive settlement building plans, Sky News reported.

The British Government will be deciding today how to respond to Israel’s plan to pick up housing construction in the “controversial” E1 zone, off of East Jerusalem.

Sources have told Sky News that the Foreign Office is considering what action to take saying “all options are on the table”.

This could include withdrawing the British ambassador to Israel and the suspension of trade agreements.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu’s government approved a proposal to build 3,000 additional homes that would effectively cut off Arabs in Bethlehem and East Jerusalem from the PA controlled territory.

Britain’s apparent diplomatic threat comes the day after the settlement plans were condemned by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as an “almost fatal blow” to peace hopes.

Britain’s diplomatic action is likely to be coordinated with other European powers, most notably with France, which is laboring on a joint response.

Except that, according to Israel Today, the French government denied rumors about returning its ambassador from Israel, saying “there are other ways to show our disagreement.”

Sources have described “an appetite for action” within the Foreign Office, which could also mean of “revisiting” the EU’s trade agreements with Israel, or, in other words, reneging on them.

The UK could invoke human rights clauses in those agreement, to suspend the trade association agreements.

Matthew Gould was appointed as Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel in September 2010.

On taking up the post he said: “We come out determined to help build the strongest possible partnership between Britain and Israel, and to help ensure that Britain and Europe do everything they can to help the people of Israel move forward on the difficult path towards peace and lasting security.”

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