Britain to Advise against Buying Jewish Houses in Yesha, Golan
(IsraelNN.com) The British Foreign Office still is planning to advise citizens not to buy Jewish houses in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights because of possible "consequences" of peace pacts with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Syria, according to the London Guardian. The planned notice follows a visit last week by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
However, the Foreign Office has not yet published the notice, which was to have been published earlier this week, and did not respond to inquires on the issue. One media report said that it will appear on the Foreign Office's website next week.
A draft of the warning notice obtained by the Guardian states, "Potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians or between Israel and Syria could have consequences for the property they purchased."
The British government has a long-standing policy against Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria but never has spelled out the policy with advice to residents.
"Given our clear position on settlements it follows that we would not want any British national to purchase property inside an illegal settlement," Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote Fayyad in a letter obtained by the Guardian.
Officials explained that the notice indicates the urgency and sensitivity of the issue. If the move is a direct outcome of a meeting between Brown and Fayyad, it indicates that the PA is trying to use new diplomatic means to prevent development in Jewish communities in the area it wants for a new Arab country.
PA envoy to Britain Prof. Manuel Hassassian said that the announcement to be made by Britain "is a dramatic change of policy [and] is a milestone."
The Israeli embassy in London expressed disappointment at the move, particularly because outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Britain a day after Fayyad and "held a frank and detailed discussion of the measures Israel is willing to take to advance the peace process with the Palestinians."
British Jews often visit real estate fairs in London and Manchester, where promotional material offers houses in Jewish communities, including Ma'aleh Adumim and Har Homa, a Jerusalem neighborhood that Britain and the United States consider to be PA territory.
Readers of the Guardian objected to the planned Foreign Office warning notice. "The government has no legal basis for its oft-repeated assertion that the settlements are 'illegal under international law,'" wrote Zionist Federation vice chairman Jonathan Hoffman. "As part of Mandatory Palestine, Judea and Samaria never belonged to any sovereign state, but were occupied and administered illegally by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967, after the Arab war of aggression against Israel in 1948. And East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan in the war of 1948."
Another reader responded, "It will be very interesting to see what sort of ethnic cleansing will be necessary now [that] some Palestinians have declared a policy of Jews not being allowed to live in a new state of Palestine. Will the British government and Independent Jewish Voices have anything to say then?"
In another British move against Jewish development in Judea and Samaria, Foreign Office envoy Bill Rammell, visiting Israel and the PA this week, said it is tightening up on inspections of Israeli imports to make sure products from Jewish communities in the area do not enter duty-free.
However, he told Reuters that Britain is not pressuring to close down operations in Judea and Samaria. Rammell also maintained that British polices are not "about boycotting Israel [because] the settlements are not Israel."