What a wonderful moment — finally — in Europe, where Britain has just vetoed an attempt to have the Council of the European Union adopt the statement of the Paris peace conference on the Middle East. The Israeli daily Haaretz calls the move “highly irregular,” by which, we’d like to think, the paper means “unusual,” rather than improper. Its very irregularity, in any event, underscores the sweetness of the moment.
It would be overly credulous to see the development as a sign that Whitehall has been suddenly flooded with the Light of Sinai. But it would not be inapt to see the development as a sign of the Trump effect. Two important Tories — Boris Johnson, the foreign minister, and Michael Gove — have been spotted in Trump Tower lately. And Prime Minister May clearly hopes for better relations with America as she seeks to find Britain’s independence.
There are those who will say that the veto by Britain strengthens the argument of those who have said all along that Britain should remain within the European Union. The line goes precisely that Britain would — or could — be a moderating influence on the continent. President Obama made that argument. It has always struck us as flimsy. Hopes that Europe will stand with Israel, history counsels, have always been wishful thinking.
In respect of the just-ended parley at Paris, Britain’s foreign office had already told the French it was opposed to holding such a conference in the first place, particularly at this juncture. It worried that the conference would harden positions. The Foreign Office statement voiced reservations over “an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them.” And which, it added, was “taking place against the wishes of the Israelis.”
One just didn’t hear that kind of talk from Britain before it stood for its own independence. The Foreign Office statement also noted that the parley was taking place “just days before the transition to a new American President when the U.S. will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement.” That kind of language is just music to the ears of those who have been revolted by the European shenanigans during the past generation.
What the Paris conference concluded, in a formal statement, was yet another plea for Israel to be more forthcoming in negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs. It was yet another plea for the fading idea of a two-state solution. That the European ilk would issue such a statement in the midst of what has amounted to a new intifada, with the Arabs running down Israelis with trucks and stabbing innocent Jews to death in the streets, is just shocking. Congratulations to Britain for exercising its veto.