UK, Australia disagree with Paris conference conclusions

While the Paris summit attempted to present a unified front against Israel, two major players at the conference – the UK and Australia – voiced dissent from the summit’s closing statements.   

The United Kingdom and Australia both expressed reservations about the closing statements made at the international Mideast summit in Paris on Sunday, while the UK refused to sign the joint statement issued at the conclusion of the event.

The British government sent only junior-level officials to the summit that discussed the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians.

A Foreign Office spokesman said London had “particular reservations” about the Paris meeting taking place without Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

Neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders attended the event that discussed their future.

The UK decided not to send high-level officials after President-elect Donald Trump’s team expressed disapproval of the Paris summit, which it viewed as another attempt to impose pressure on Israel. The UK government apparently took note of Trump’s objections and acted accordingly, attending the Paris talks only as an observer.

The UK refused to sign a joint statement at the conclusion of the summit that called for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead criticizing the conference, saying it could harden Palestinian negotiating positions. It was a time to “encourage conditions for peace” rather than entrenching hardened positions, the UK stated.

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By doing so, Britain essentially adopted Israel’s position on the summit.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also distanced her country from the communique issued at the end of the summit, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The concluding statement called on both sides to “take urgent steps in order to reverse the current negative trends on the ground,” including acts of violence and terror on the part of the Palestinians and the construction of Israeli communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

The communique specifically welcomed Resolution 2334, passed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) last month, which declared that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria violated international law and called on Israel to immediately cease all activity there.

Australia does not support “one-sided resolutions targeting Israel,” Bishop stated. “The most important priority must be a resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians for a two-state solution as soon as possible.”

Australia was one of the few countries to condemn Resolution 2334, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemning it as “one-sided” and “deeply unsettling.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the French initiative as “futile” and “rigged.”

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News