UK Parliament to “Investigate” Israeli Interference
The British Parliament’s Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has announced the launch of an official investigation into the activities of Shai Masot, the Israeli diplomat exposed as wanting to “take down” U.K. politicians in an Al Jazeera undercover documentary.
The investigation will form part of a broader inquiry into the “U.K.’s policy towards the Middle East Peace Process,” a statement on the official parliamentary website has announced.
The Foreign Affairs Committee’s remit is, according to the website, the examination of the “expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).”
The official statement went on to say that new inquiry into the U.K.’s Middle East policy will be conducted during 2017, a “year that contains at least three anniversaries that are significant for the issue: one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration, seventy years of United Nations commitment to a two-state solution, and fifty years since the war of June 1967.”
These historic dates, the statement said, and “a contemporary context of shifting diplomatic initiatives both within the region and among world powers, provide a setting for an inquiry to examine how UK policies towards this issue are formed, the steps the UK has taken to fulfil them and recommendations for future policy.”
Chairman of the Committee, Crispin Blunt MP (pictured), is then quoted as saying that the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains an open wound on the map of the Middle East, leaving successive generations living under the perpetual shadow of destructive violence. It is unlikely that 2017 will be the year when a just and equitable solution is reached but, a century after the Balfour Declaration, the Foreign Affairs Committee wants to examine the UK’s role and our efforts to enable a resolution.”
He said the Committee will “consider the historic and systemic issues that constitute such stubborn obstacles to peace. This context includes on-going issues of violence and incitement, internal divisions, and settlement expansion—all set within the context of Britain’s relations with the various parties to the conflict and its efforts to help them overcome these obstacles.”
The inquiry will also examine “the evolving diplomatic context, including the UK’s position in response to the policies of the new US administration, the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and the partnership with the European Union in supporting peace as we begin the Brexit process.”
Blunt’s statement said that although the “Government may have formally closed the issue of Shai Masot (pictured) . . . one of our terms of reference invites consideration of the way that foreign states and interested parties seek to influence UK policy. In any such discussion, it is necessary to recognise the legitimate right of individuals and organisations to lobby within the bounds of the law. It is important to understand the context in which the UK formulates policy.”
The terms of reference for the Committee state that it seeks “written evidence” addressing the “merits of the U.K.’s policy in support of a two-state solution,” what steps the U.K. has “taken to fulfil this policy,” and the “viability and potential opportunities of a two-state solution.”
The Committee will also study the “consequences of failure to progress towards and deliver a two-state solution, and possible UK policy responses,” the “UK’s relationship with Israel,” the “U.K.’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority”, and “how U.K. policy is influenced by other states and interested parties.”
The final date for the submission of written evidence is March 30, 2017.
Although the announcement of an investigation might seem to indicate an air of impartiality, the Committee’s conclusions have an element of predictability about them.
Committee Chairman Blunt, for example, is a longtime member and supporter of the “Conservative Friends of Israel” (CFI) organization—one of those groups to which Masot specifically referred to as being able to influence British policy.
Blunt even once took part in a Parliamentary Cricket Club visit to Israel for what the CFI website described as a “landmark cricket tour, in co-ordination with CFI.”
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