19th December 2000

The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain bitterly criticised last night’s decision by the British Ambassador to the UN to abstain from a vote which led to the rejection by the UN Security Council of a Palestinian demand to send a UN observer force to protect the Palestinians from murderous Israeli soldiers.

“It is a matter of deep concern that the Middle East policy of the UK is so blatantly subservient to the interests of Israel, ” said the MCB Secretary-General Yousuf Bhailok, referring to the pro-Israel lobby in government foreign policy circles. “All Britons should be horrified that a small but powerful lobby group has apparently hijacked Britain’s Middle East agenda. It is now clear that we do not have an independent foreign policy – that is a matter which should shame all of us.”

The MCB believes that the UN resolution – had it been adopted – would have resulted in dramatically reducing the number of Palestinian casualties at the hands of Israeli gunfire. To date, at least 300 Palestinians have been killed and several thousand wounded – many of them disabled for life – by Israeli troops.

“Britain’s decision not to support a common-sense resolution will only lead to increased worldwide Muslim resentment and anger at Britain’s foreign policy – a policy already held responsible for the continued and unacceptable sanctions on the people of Iraq,” said Yousuf Bhailok.

The MCB urges Government to adopt a forward-looking and objective approach to the Middle East in the interests of long-term peace in the region and beyond.