Now it is the UK’s turn. Israel's foreign ministry has repeated its history of embarrassing ministers and officials visiting its country. The UK’s foreign secretary, William Hague, is on an official visit to Israel. He is also slated to visit the occupied territories. On the very first day of Mr. Hague’s visit, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said Israel was postponing “strategic dialogue” with Britain. The UK and Israel have been conducting strategic dialogue over defense and security issues for several years.
This is not the first time Israel has humiliated visiting foreign officials. Prominent examples in the recent past were the US’ Vice President Joe Biden’s visit in March 2010 and the summoning of Turkey’s envoy over a Turkish TV series. Both incidents caused major problems for Israel. Though an Israeli spokesperson denied that the latest development was a deliberate one, it said the same in Joe Biden’s issue. But so far, Britain's response has been too mild to mention.
Joe Biden’s Visit
In the second week of March when the Vice President of the US, Joe Biden, was going to visit Israel to bring momentum to indirect talks between Palestinians and Israelis, Israel announced the construction of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, an occupied territory. The timing of that announcement called into question the very integrity of the US initiative on the Middle East peace process.
US President Barack Obama described the announcement that overshadowed Biden’s visit to Israel as destructive to peace talks and an “insult” to the US government. Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, was summoned and reprimanded about the affair. Mr. Oren said then that Israel’s ties with the US were at their lowest and in the most serious crisis since 1975.
Turkish envoy to Israel, Ahmet Celikkol, was summoned over a Turkish television series in October 2009 that showed Israeli security forces kidnapping Palestinian children and killing elders during the Gaza attack. The same was acknowledged by the UNHRC-commissioned Goldstone’s report on the Gaza attack. But Israel was infuriated over the television series and summoned the Turkish ambassador without informing him that he was to be reprimanded. Mr. Celikkol came to know about the reprimand only after arriving for the meeting and seeing the press and TV reporters.