Mrs May ‘more pro-Is­rael even than Harper’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY STEPHEN POL­LARD

WHEN THE UK voted in sup­port of UN res­o­lu­tion 2334 just be­fore Christ­mas, it seemed un­likely — to put it mildly — that Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment might come to be recog­nised as the most solidly pro-Is­rael in Bri­tish his­tory.

As a se­nior com­mu­nal leader said at the time: “If Labour wasn’t so toxic, the Tories might have blown 20 years of work in one vote.” And yet when a White­hall source told me this week that “If you thought Stephen Harper was pro-Is­rael, just you wait”, it was en­tirely cred­i­ble.

Mr Harper, who was Cana­dian PM from 2006 to 2015, was per­haps the most se­ri­ous vo­cally sup­port­ive for­eign ally Is­rael has ever had.

There may soon be a ri­val for that ac­co­lade.

Since vot­ing for the UN res­o­lu­tion, UK pol­icy has taken a very dif­fer­ent turn. Num­ber 10 and the For­eign Sec­re­tary are now open — al­most — in mak­ing clear the vote was a big mis­take. At the very least, their ac­tions since show a will­ing­ness to fight Is­rael’s bat­tles in in­ter­na­tional fo­rums with an un­prece­dented rel­ish.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the vote, the then US Sec­re­tary of State, John Kerry, launched a with­er­ing at­tack on the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment. To the as­ton­ish­ment of sea­soned diplo­macy-watch­ers, he was then un­am­bigu­ously at­tacked by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

Two weeks later, the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the Paris “peace con­fer­ence” was in­tended as a direct con­tra­dic­tion of its vote for Res­o­lu­tion 2334. Mid­dle East min­is­ter To­bias Ellwood was told not to at­tend; the Bri­tish del­e­ga­tion com­prised just two diplo­mats from our em­bassy in Paris.

Not only did the UK refuse to sign the con­clud­ing com­mu­niqué, it also is­sued a damn­ing state­ment, high­light­ing the gov­ern­ment’s “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”.

Now this lat­est move, mak­ing clear that the UK will call out and vote against the UNHRC’s lu­di­crous an­tiIs­rael par­ti­san­ship.

My White­hall source con­firms that there are two main driv­ers of this new-found clar­ity in Bri­tish pol­icy.

First, Mrs May her­self. Oddly for a PM, her views on many is­sues are still some­what un­known. Un­til re­cently, there was noth­ing to sug­gest she was any more in­stinc­tively sup­port­ive of Is­rael than most other Con­ser­va­tive MPs. Her ac­tions show that she is.

But an­other key to this more pug­na­cious Bri­tish sup­port is the at­ti­tude of Nick Ti­mothy, Mrs May’s joint chief of staff. As my source put it: “If he was a jour­nal­ist, and he was Jewish, you could imag­ine him edit­ing the JC.”

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