IN December, Ambassador Taub was summoned by the British Government to talks at the Foreign Office where the Government told him that planned expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories “threatens the viability of peace”.
When asked yesterday about that meeting, the Ambassador said that there were “certainly concerns that they were expressing with us” but said that he had told the UK Government that while Israel had lifted a moratorium on settlement-building, it had no immediate plans to start building new settlements.
During his Belfast visit, the News Letter also asked whether he found it difficult being an Ambassador for a country that sometimes seems to have few friends and many enemies, to which Mr Taub replied that there are “large sections of society who are deeply appreciative and supportive of Israel”, such as in the hi-tech, medical research and military communities.
“I think that in the public sphere there probably is a disproportionate amount of noise that is given to people who don’t necessarily reflect the full range of public opinion who for their own reasons sometimes are being very vocal and very vociferous.”
Asked about the reception Israel receives in Britain, compared to countries such as France and Germany, he said: “Britain probably is better and worse than a lot of countries in Europe.
“I would say that at its best our relations are truly remarkable... At the same time we do know that some of the more negative energies if you like find a hub here in the United Kingdom.
“Some of the extremism on campus here I have to say is probably more, stronger, more forceful than it is in other places.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has condemned the “illegal demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel” ahead of a public meeting which it has organised in Belfast for next week.
Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “The increasing rate of settlement expansion and house demolitions is pushing Palestinians to the brink, destroying their livelihoods and prospects for a just and durable peace.
“Israel’s unlawful demolitions of Palestinian homes and forced evictions of entire communities violates international human rights law, particularly the right to adequate housing.”
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