Miliband briefing leaders on Israel
DAVID MILIBAND has called Jewish and Muslim leaders to separate meetings at the Foreign Office to discuss the outcome of his visit to the Middle East, during which he announced that there would be no Foreign Office objection to members of the royal family visiting Israel.
High-profile Israel advocacy and Jewish communal organisations were due to see the Foreign Secretary yesterday in Whitehall, to be followed today by meetings between Mr Miliband and Muslim groups.
Among the Jewish contingent were lobbying group Bicom, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and political friends-of-Israel organisations.
A source told the JC that the invitation by the Foreign Secretary to such a “debriefing” was unprecedented.
It was seen as an effort by the government to explain its policies at a sensitive time in relations between Muslims and Jews — and when hopes for peace in the Middle East hang in the balance.
The discussions were expected to focus on Mr Miliband’s impressions of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and his hopes for a successful follow-up to this week’s Annapolis peace summit.
However, the “elephant in the room” could be a royal visit to Israel, which has become a major issue since the JC exclusively revealed divisions between aides of Prince Charles over the possibility.
One Jewish official said that he did not expect the matter to be raised at the meeting.
However, it is known that some Jewish representatives are to discuss the issue with Foreign Office diplomats over the next few weeks.
Mr Miliband had told a press conference in Tel Aviv that an email exchange, in which a Clarence House official wrote that an invitation to visit Israel had “no chance” of being accepted, did not reflect official policy.
He maintained that an invitation would be welcomed for a visit “at the right time and the right place”, and that suggestions of difficulties could be “scotched”.