Report: UK blocked EU statement adopting Paris conference conclusions

By January 17 2017, 14:23 Latest News No Comments

According to reports, the UK Government prevented on Monday afternoon the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopting the closing statement of Sunday’s peace conference in Paris.

The reported move came a day after Britain refused to sign the communique issued at the end of the summit, with a spokesman from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office expressing “particular reservations”.

Israeli and European diplomats said it was France that moved for the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council to adopt a resolution that backed the Paris peace summit’s conclusions.

Several other countries, including Hungary and Lithuania, joined Britain’s reservations over the summit’s statement. Since resolutions in the Council must be passed unanimously, the French move was blocked.

On Sunday, the UK refused to sign a joint statement at the Paris Middle East peace conference yesterday – diverging from the 73 other countries – after attending as an observer.

A spokesman from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the UK has “particular reservations” about the Paris summit taking place without Israeli or Palestinian representatives, and argued that the summit might harden Palestinian negotiating positions.

Due to these concerns, Britain had attended the Paris talks as an observer only; dispatching Michael Howells, head of the Middle East desk at the Foreign Office, rather than a Minister.

The FCO statement said: “The UK remains committed to achieving a two state solution. We believe the best way to make progress towards this is through a return to bilateral negotiations, which take account of and confront all of the obstacles to peace and legitimate concerns of both sides”.

It continued: “Therefore, we have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis – and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement. There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace”.

“That’s why we have attended in an observer status and have not signed up to the communique”.

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