Miliband brief­ing lead­ers on Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

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”.

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