The UK government is seeking to shield the Israeli regime’s authorities from being pursued as war criminals as far as the Palestinian Authority’s UN recognition bid is concerned.
Under intense pressure from the British public opinion, the UK government has been forced to change tack and say it is prepared to vote “yes” to recognize Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.
But, the UK authorities are pressuring Mahmud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority chief, to modify his application so as not to be able to pursue the Israeli regime for war crimes.
The Palestinians’ bid, which is to be debated by the UN General Assembly in New York later this week, would recognize Palestine as a “non-member state”.
The British, however, want the Palestinians to refrain from applying for membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which could both be used to press war crimes charges or other legal claims against Israel.
As the second condition, they also want Abbas to commit to an immediate resumption of peace talks “without preconditions” with Israel. The third condition is that the general assembly’s resolution does not require the UN Security Council to follow suit.
The long-awaited vote is certain to pass as 132 UN members have already recognized the state of Palestine.
“After everything that has happened in the Arab spring, Britain can’t pretend it is in favour of democracy in Libya, Syria and Egypt but accept the Palestinians continuing to live under occupation. As the former colonial power, Britain has a historic responsibility to Palestine. Britain is a very important country in the Middle East, it has extensive trade relations, and David Cameron should know he risks a popular backlash from Arab public opinion if he does not support us”, said Leila Shaid, Palestine’s representative to the EU.