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UK worried about ‘dangerous’ Palestinian UN bid

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British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould has stressed Britain’s significant concerns about Palestinian attempts to secure recognition at the UN in September. He told the Hebrew language daily Maariv, in an interview published this morning, ‘we are worried that September will be a damaging moment for the future of peace. We are worried that it will make it more difficult in the matter of the trust between the sides. We are worried that this will divert the main message that peace must come about by means of talks between the sides. It could be that this decision will also fuel the flames. For example, in the West Bank and Gaza-there is real frustration there. If you bring into there the idea of a UN resolution about the recognition of a Palestinian state, and nothing changes on the ground, this will create a dangerous situation. This will only increase the level of tension.’

He added that while Britain had not decided what it would do if a resolution came before the UN, ‘our preference is to avoid a situation in which we have to choose either way in a decision that we think is dangerous.’

Gould stated that Britain would like to see peace talks restarted based on the terms recently set out by President Obama, but that a lack of trust between the two sides was preventing progress. When asked about Israel’s security concerns he stated that, ‘Israel will make steps toward peace when it believes that peace will make it more secure. This is understandable and important.’ However, he told the paper that lack of progress would negatively impact on ‘how Israel is seen in the world.’

In the same interview the ambassador acknowledged there was a problem on British university campuses of ‘too many anti-Semitic attacks, too many universities where people don’t feel safe to stand up and express pro-Israeli views.’ However, he also said that the scale of the problem was exaggerated in Israel, telling the paper, ‘any initiative of some ephemeral organisation in Britain for a boycott of Israel earns great and disproportionate attention that does not reflect broad public opinion in Britain.’