Tony Blair’s new mission: To change UK minds on Brexit

February 17 at 10:58 AM
LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a campaign Friday to persuade the U.K. to rethink its decision to leave the European Union, saying those who want to remain should rise up and make their wishes known.

Blair argued that the Conservative government’s drive to leave the EU “at any cost” will hurt future generations and damage the unity of the country itself.

Last year’s vote to leave the 28-nation bloc was “based on imperfect knowledge” and Britons made their decision without knowing the true terms of Brexit, he said in a speech in London.

“As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind,” said Blair, the former Labour leader. “Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”

Blair’s intervention reflects the bitter divide that has gripped Britain since the June 23 referendum. While 51.9 percent voted to leave the EU, the terms were not specified and Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May has been reluctant to discuss her plans fearing it will hurt the U.K.’s bargaining position.

Many in this country of 64 million have expressed disquiet at the potential consequences.

“They will say we don’t represent the people. We do, many millions of them, and with determination, many millions more,” Blair said. “They will claim we’re dividing the country by making the case. It is they who divide our country – generation from generation, North from South, Scotland from England, those born here from those who came to our country precisely because of what they thought it stood for and what they admired.”

Blair spoke on behalf of Open Britain, which is campaigning for the government’s Brexit legislation to be amended to ensure that Parliament has “proper scrutiny” over any deal May negotiates with EU leaders. Among the group’s goals is for Britain to remain part of the bloc’s single market, guaranteeing unfettered access to 500 million people.

May has offered only broad outlines of her strategy, with reducing immigration a priority. She has argued that she must keep the Europeans guessing about the U.K.’s negotiation position, but pressure for details has been building as she prepares to invoke Article 50, which will trigger Britain’s departure from the bloc.

While supporters oppose any attempt to slow the drive toward Brexit, calling that undemocratic, Blair argued that the people have a right to change their minds. The leave campaign benefited from a mood of revolt stemming in part from changes in the global economy, but such opinions aren’t set in stone, he said.

“The Brexiteers were the beneficiaries of this wave. Now they want to freeze it to a day in June 2016,” he said. “They will say the will of the people can’t alter. It can. They will say leaving is inevitable. It isn’t.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how much support Blair may have in creating a wave of sentiment against May’s plans. The once-popular Labour Party leader suffered a fall from grace after he supported the United States in its intervention in Iraq.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dismissed the speech, telling the BBC that people should “rise up and turn off the TV” when Blair comes on.

Blair was well aware he would be criticized and didn’t spare his own party in his critique, declaring Labour to be ineffectual and a “facilitator of Brexit.” He also challenged sections of Britain’s media for what he described as a relentless pro-Brexit stance.

Blair said he plans to build alliances across party lines to create a movement that has the weight and reach to fight back.

“This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair,” he said. “But the time to rise up in defense for what we believe.”




The City University in London and Ulster University in Northern Ireland rejected in February motions to boycott the Jewish state.

A spokesman for the City University sent The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday a student union statement overriding a motion supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.


In November, the student union passed a pro-BDS motion. Yusuf Ahmad, the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Student Union, wrote, “The Union is happy to support all students in drafting motions submitted to a General Meeting, Referendum or Student Council to try and avoid cases where the Union Board of Trustees would need to override a decision. “

He added, “The Union is a registered charity and is required to remain compliant with all relevant legislation. Upon receiving legal advice the Union Board of Trustees decided that the existing wording of the motion was not compliant with legislation and therefore it could not remain a policy of the Union. The Board of Trustees took no view on the merits of the motion’s subject.”

Michali Belovski, the head of a Jewish City student group at the City University, told the London-based Jewish Chronicle, she was “proud that Jewish students and our allies came together to vote against the motion, ensuring by their sheer number that the vote did not go ahead.

“We also very much appreciate certain other non-Jewish students at City who have showed their support in various ways, including taking time out of their busy schedules to vote and spend time understanding our perspective.”

The pro-BDS motion was proposed by Tasnima Uddin and Sharmin Siddiqa in November.The proposal said the student union should raise awareness about BDS on campus.

According to the motion, “Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestine and, discriminating against Palestinian citizens and denying Palestine refugees the right to return to their home.”

The City University pro- BDS motion was blocked because of an apparent violation of anti-discrimination laws.

The United Kingdom is ground-zero for the academic BDS movement in Europe. Student union groups at the University of Vienna and Leipzig University in Germany passed resolutions in 2016 opposing BDS and termed the movement anti-Semitic.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that a BDS motion at the Ulster University in Northern Ireland was defeated. A Post query to the Ulster University was not immediately returned.

Hours after Netanyahu visit, UK slams Regulation Law

Hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left London, the UK government on Tuesday denounced Israel for passing into law a measure allowing the country to hold onto private Palestinian land, arguing that it alienates Israel from its allies.

The condemnation came a day after Netanyahu concluded his first visit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, during which Netanyahu declined to fully back the UK leader’s recognition of the two-state solution as the best pathway to peace.

“As a longstanding friend of Israel, I condemn the passing of the Land Regularisation Bill by the Knesset, which damages Israel’s standing with its international partners,” Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said in a statement. “It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution.”

Ellwood concluded his statement by reiterating Britain’s support for a two-state solution “leading to a secure Israel that is safe from terrorism, and a contiguous, viable and sovereign Palestinian state.”

The Knesset on Monday night passed the controversial Regulation Bill into law, 60-52. The law retroactively legalizes some 4,000 homes built by settlers on private Palestinian land across the West Bank, but is likely to be overturned by the High Court of Justice.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Foreign Office in central London on February 6, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/POOL/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Foreign Office in central London on February 6, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/POOL/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Netanyahu, who had met May and UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson earlier during the day, did not participate in the vote because he was still airborne at the time. However, he said from London that he supported the law after speaking to US administration officials about it.

The UK was the first major Western ally to condemn the bill. The White House said late Monday that President Donald Trump would discuss the matter with Netanyahu during their planned meeting in Washington next week.

Turkey on Tuesday condemned the law as “unacceptable,” saying in a statement that it “destroys” prospects for a two-state solution.

Earlier on Monday, May had told Netanyahu that the UK continued to view the two-state solution as “the best way to bring stability and peace to the region.” She reiterated her government’s opposition to settlement activity, according to her spokesperson.

During their meeting at 10 Downing Street, May also told her Israeli guest that the Regulation Bill was unhelpful and made it more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend the country in the international arena, the Haaretz daily reported.

Netanyahu, in public statements before the meeting, said he shared Britain’s desire for peace and Israel “will never give up on our quest for peace with all of our neighbors.”

During a subsequent briefing with Israeli reporters, Netanyahu said May brought up settlement building but did not go beyond normal discussions on the issue, despite a spike in Israeli announcements of new settlement homes since Trump entered office.

“She did bring up the issue and expressed the government’s known position. The issue came up in our conversation, to the extent that is usual, but not beyond that,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his British counterpart, Theresa May, in London on Monday, February 6, 2017 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his British counterpart, Theresa May, in London on Monday, February 6, 2017 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

He said he told May that “the settlements are not the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are not an obstacle to peace,” instead blaming Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as the reason for stagnant peace efforts.

The Israeli leader added that he laid out his positions on the question of Palestinian statehood, saying he has not changed his position that any peace agreement be conditioned on a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and an Israeli security presence from the Green Line, which distinguishes Israel from the West Bank, to the Jordan River.

While Netanyahu in the briefing stopped short of explicitly endorsing the two-state solution, he said his position on the issue hadn’t changed.

UK Jewish lawmaker opposes a Trump address to parliament

The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons said Monday he was “strongly opposed” to allowing Donald Trump to address members of parliament during the US president’s state visit later this year.

John Bercow said such a speech was “not an automatic right, it is an earned honor” — and one he would object to following Trump’s ban on refugees and travelers from seven mainly Muslim countries.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” said Bercow, one of three officials who would have to approve the move.

“After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed.”

US President Donald Trump speaks following a visit to the US Central Command and Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base on February 6, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

Bercow, whose paternal grandparents were Romanian Jewish immigrants to England, attended the Finchley Reform Synagogue and had a bar mitzvah, though he now considers himself secular.

Prime Minister Theresa May has come under intense pressure for the invitation for Trump to make a state visit, which she extended while at the White House just hours before he announced his travel ban.

More than 1.8 million people have signed a public petition calling on ministers to cancel the visit, which MPs are due to debate later this month.

Bercow said that decision was above his pay grade.

Demonstrators hold banners as they take part in a protest against US President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on refugees and people from seven mainly-Muslim countries, outside Downing Street in London, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (AP/Alastair Grant)

“However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons,” he said.

The date and details of the state visit are still being worked out and a spokeswoman for the speaker’s office said the government had not made any request for Trump to address parliament.

But a speech to both Houses of Commons and Lords has been a feature of many previous state visits, including one by Barack Obama in 2011.

Some 163 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion opposing an address by Trump, citing the travel ban and his comments on torture and women.

Bercow’s statement sparked cheers and clapping from the opposition benches.

Earlier, May told MPs that at a summit last week, she had urged her fellow European leaders to “engage patiently and constructively” with the new US administration.

Trump’s criticism of the NATO military alliance and his prediction that the EU could fall apart following Britain’s vote to leave has caused alarm in European capitals.

Drug-Resistant Malaria Turns Up In The U.K.

If you get malaria somewhere in the tropics and end up in a British hospital, the treatment is pretty simple.

Or at least it used to be.

The recommended treatment in the U.K. for “uncomplicated” malaria (that’s a case where you’re pretty sick but not on death’s door) is an artemisinin-based drug combination called Artemether-lumefantrine. The patient takes a few pills over the course of three or four days, the drugs kill the malaria parasites and everybody feels better. That’s why, over the last decade and a half, artemisinin has become the go-to drug to beat back the most common malaria infections both in British hospitals and across much of the developing world.

Recently, however, malaria parasites have started to adapt so the drugs won’t knock them out. Resistance to artemisinin-based medications has been slowly developing in Southeast Asia. And now these malaria wonder drugs look like they may be starting to lose their mojo in Africa, too.

Late in 2015, health officials in Britain for the first time came across a cluster of malaria cases that refused to succumb to Artemether-lumefantrine. The patients were travelers who had returned from three different African countries — Angola, Liberia and Uganda. After being treated with Artemether-lumefantrine, each patient appeared to be cured.

Then the parasitic infections came racing back.

“It was very surprising,” says Dr. Colin Sutherland, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “We might not get too concerned about the occasional treatment failure. But when four cases come along at once, it does make us think we’ve got something important that we need to investigate. Interestingly at about the same time Swedish colleagues reported a similar finding in Sweden.”

In an article published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Sutherland and his colleagues document the four cases. Part of what is useful to researchers about these U.K. cases is that the patients were in Britain when their malaria cases rebounded. None of them had left the country after initially being treated. So when the malaria parasites re-emerged in their systems, the doctors were able to quickly realize that the artemisinin-based drugs had failed. The patients were subsequently treated with different drugs.

“Because our patients were living in a country where we don’t have malaria, we knew it had to be the same parasites that weren’t adequately treated the first time around,” says Sutherland. That’s not the case in Africa, where people live with malaria on a day-to-day basis. So if they get sick again, he says, “it’s difficult to determine if maybe they just got another mosquito bite.”

There’s been concern about the potential development of artemisinin resistance in Africa but very little concrete evidence that it’s happening there.

These cases in the U.K. show that strains of malaria are emerging in Africa that can’t be cured with the most common drugs to treat the disease. But Sutherland urges caution: “It would be unwise for us to sit here in Europe and say, oh, we’ve got four cases so Africa’s got a problem. But the public health impact in Africa could be enormous. It’s a clear message that we need to now put in place the right kind of studies in Africa [to track resistance].”

Malaria remains one of the most troublesome diseases in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization there were more than 200 million cases in 2015 and roughly 430,000 deaths from the disease.

The good news is that efforts against malaria, including insecticide-treated bed nets and artemisinin-based treatments, have cut the rates of malaria transmission particularly in Africa significantly over the last 15 years with the total number of cases in the world dropping by a third and malaria deaths being cut in half.


May offered tough language on Iran and the nuclear deal it reached with world powers in 2015.
British PM Theresa May

British PM Theresa May. (photo credit:REUTERS)

WASHINGTON — Britain’s prime minister embraced the Republican Party on Thursday in a speech to its lawmakers in Philadelphia, characterizing herself as a fellow conservative keen on renewing Western leadership around the world.

Addressing a GOP retreat one day before meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, May said that America must continue to fulfill its promise “of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.”

While acknowledging the political upheaval that rocked both of their nations last year— Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and America’s election of Donald Trump— as a “period of change” for the West, May cast that change as an opportunity to renew a special relationship that, in her words, first forged the modern world.

“A newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world,” May said. “An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot– and should not– do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up. And I agree.”

In that pursuit, the US and UK must redouble its fight against “closed, coercive and cruel” political forces, such as the Russian government and terrorist organizations such as Islamic State, May said.

“And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighborhoods too,” she added.

Under May’s leadership and before Trump took the oath of office, Britain unilaterally stopped the EU from adopting terms agreed upon in Paris for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. London also sent a low-level conference to the event. Both moves were considered nods to the president-elect, who opposed the French conference.

May also offered tough language on Iran and the nuclear deal it reached with world powers in 2015. Britain was party to those negotiations, which resulted in a deal roundly opposed by Republican lawmakers.

“The nuclear deal with Iran was controversial,” she said. “But it has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade. It has seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium. That was vitally important for regional security.”

“The agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed– and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately,” she said, also vowing to fight against Iran’s “aggressive efforts to build an arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean.”



The “improper interference into this country’s democratic process” by an Israeli official should be investigated at once, UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May Sunday, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

The complaint came as accusations of foreign meddling reached a nadir this week following the revelation that an Israeli embassy employee was heard discussing the “take down” of a number of UK senior officials, including Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan

Shai Masot, who was secretly recorded last October as part of a four part documentary produced by Al-Jazeera, later resigned from his post.

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Report: Israeli official recorded discussing ‘take down’ of British MPs

The footage shows Masot describing UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson as an “idiot,” and commented that Duncan was “doing [sic] a lot of problems” for Israel.

Duncan has previously criticized Israeli settlement construction and has compared the situation in at least one West Bank city to “apartheid,” according to The Independent.

Corbyn also urged that the UK prime minister treat the matter with the highest severity.

“This is clearly a national security issue,” the Labour leader wrote. “It is only on [the basis of an investigation] that Parliament and the public will be reassured that such activities will not be tolerated by your government.”

The Israeli embassy in London has apologized for the incident, calling Masot’s comments “unacceptable.”

“The Embassy of Israel rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable; the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly,” a spokesman said in a statement last week.

Since the airing of the Al-Jazeera documentary, titled “The Lobby,” Jewish Labour party leaders are considering taking out a legal complaint against the undercover reporter, saying his treatment of one Jewish Labour activist may have been against the law.

Gas canisters, Nazi slogans hurled at 4 London Jews (GOOD!!!!)

(JTA) — Four haredi Orthodox Jews from London, including a mother and her 13 year-old son, were pelted with gas canisters by at least one man who yelled “Heil Hitler” at them from a moving car.

Police apprehended a suspect, 19-year-old Patrick Delaney, who admitted to participating in the attack last week in Tottenham in northern London, the London Economic reported Thursday. But charges were dropped against two individuals who were with Delaney in the car, including his brother.

Delaney acknowledged involvement in the attack, in which small canisters containing laughing gas were thrown at Cheya Stern, her son, her brother Simon Lemberger and a passerby, Abraham Law. According to reports, the men in the vehicle also shouted “Hitler is on the way to you, Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler,” according to The Jewish Chronicle.

Shulem Stern, from the Jewish defense group Shomrim, said: “They were just going about their daily life but they were scared about what would happen next. Jewish people have to face this anti-Semitism on a daily basis and visibly Jewish people are often targeted.”

Delaney admitted to racially aggravated harassment and will be sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court next month, The Chronicle reported.

Delaney’s brother, Francis Delaney, 23, and Michael Doherty, 25, had also been accused of involvement in the incident, but the prosecution dropped the charges for lack of proof.

Judge Witold Pawlak told the pair: “Be careful who you keep company with. You may have had a lucky escape, I don’t know, and I hope you learn from this experience about how careful you need to be about getting involved in cruel and unpleasant jokes at other people’s expense.”

Separately, the Oxford University Student Union, in a statement this week, acknowledged that anti-Semitism is a problem at the university and vowed to address it.

“We would like to express our commitment to tackling anti-Semitism” and “remind students of the support structures in place” for dealing with the issue, the statement read.

The statement added: “We would particularly like to acknowledge concerns raised specifically over the National Union of Students and the Oxford University Labour Club.”

In 2014, African rights activist Zuleyka Shahin, during a failed campaign for president of the Oxford Union, wrote on Facebook that “Judeo-Christian white men” and “Zio white men” are “complicit in the funding of wars and the social genocide of my people.”

Reports that students of the Labour club in 2015 sang about “rockets over Tel Aviv” and harassed Jewish students prompted Alex Chalmers to resign as the club’s president and focused intense media scrutiny on anti-Semitism within the Labour party under its leader Jeremy Corbyn. A critic of Israel who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends” – a remark he last year said he regrets – Corbyn was accused of ignoring anti-Semitism within Labour by leaders of British Jewry. Corbyn has denied the accusation, vowing to discipline any member responsible for any form of xenophobia.

Four of Oxford’s six delegates to Britain’s National Student Union last year said their university should disaffiliate from the national group following the election of Malia Bouatia as its president. Bouatia, a student at the University of Birmingham, is accused of justifying violence against Israelis and opposing a motion to condemn the Islamic State terror group lest it stigmatize Muslims. She also blamed the “Zionist-led media” for oppression in the global south.

Netanyahu may have missed chance to quash UN vote by not calling UK’s Theresa May (White Feminist, White Freemason, Zionist)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not speak with British Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of last month’s United Nations Security Council resolution, The Times of Israel has established, despite indications that she might have opposed the text, which castigated Israel’s settlement enterprise as illegal and branded all West Bank and Jerusalem land captured by Israel in the 1967 war as occupied Palestinian territory.

In the run-up to the December 23 vote, Netanyahu spoke with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, but not with May, a spokesperson in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem confirmed to The Times of Israel.

Johnson was instrumental in drafting Resolution 2334, while May appears to not have known about the content and would possibly have been willing to abstain or even veto the motion.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Britain, along with Russia, China, France and the US, has a right of veto on its resolutions. Netanyahu did reportedly speak to President Vladimir Putin in a failed attempt to persuade Russia to veto, and implored the US to maintain its traditional policy of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council, but to no avail. The US abstained, escalating years of friction between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on September 30, 2016. (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on September 30, 2016. (GPO)

Britain’s Johnson told Parliament on Tuesday that he was” closely involved in [the] drafting,” of the resolution. May, on the other hand, was “blindsided” by the Foreign Office’s support for the resolution, according a lawmaker from her Conservative Party.

Current Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer. (courtesy)

MP Mike Freer (courtesy)

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, wrote in the UK Jewish News that May was caught off guard by the Foreign Office’s move, and speculated that she may seek to enact reforms to keep a situation like that from happening again.

Days after the UN vote, the British prime minister’s spokesperson issued a highly unusual rebuke of US Secretary of State John Kerry for overly focusing on Israeli settlements during a post-vote December 28 speech in which he defended the US abstention, bitterly attacked the settlement enterprise, and set out his thoughts on how to advance the peace process.

“We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” a spokesperson for May said. “And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.”

In the statement, May’s office endorsed its longstanding support of a two-state solution and said it supported Resolution 2334 because it considers that settlements in the West “illegal.”

Downing Street has not said how involved it was in the Foreign Office’s decision to help draft and support the resolution.

The UK Prime Minister’s Office and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv did not reply to Times of Israel queries on May’s views on the resolution.

Just a week and half before the Security Council vote, May delivered a speech overflowing with praise and support for Israel. Addressing the Conservative Friends of Israel, the prime minister hailed the Jewish state as “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance.”

Ties with Jerusalem were “crucial,” she said, promising to raise the bilateral trade relationship to new heights and described the Balfour Declaration as “one of the most important letters in history.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, December 12, 2016 (Courtesy CFI)

British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, December 12, 2016 (Courtesy CFI)

Jerusalem reacted furiously to the passage of the resolution, taking diplomatic action against a number of countries that supported the measure. That reportedly included Netanyahu canceling a planned meeting with May at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week. Netanyahu’s office denied having ever made plans to meet with May and last week the prime minister canceled his planned trip to the summit.

Jerusalem says it knew that the US was going to abstain on the UN resolution and has “ironclad” evidence that the US pushed for its passing, claims Washington denies. Netanyahu accused Obama of a shameful ambush of Israel at the UN, accusations that the outgoing president dismissed as false.

Days before the December 23 vote, Netanyahu reached out not only to Johnson but to leaders of other Security Council members as well, amid a frantic diplomatic scramble to quash the resolution.

Samantha Power, center, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, votes to abstain during a UN Security Council vote on condemning Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at United Nations Headquarters. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)

Samantha Power, center, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, votes to abstain during a UN Security Council vote on condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at United Nations Headquarters. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)

Netanyahu reportedly called Putin hours before the vote to persuade him to postpone. It seems Putin partially answered the plea when, less than an hour before the 15-member council was set to cast votes, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin asked for closed consultations to request a delay on the vote until after the Christmas holiday.

Churkin said Moscow was unhappy with the text and with the timing of the vote — just weeks before a new US administration is set to take power. But Churkin was rebuffed, and Russia ultimately did not come to Netanyahu’s rescue: The vote passed with the 14 votes in favor, including Russia’s, and with the US abstention.

Two days before the vote, Netanyahu had reportedly extended a favor to Russia at the UN, instructing the Israeli UN mission in New York to skip a vote at the General Assembly on a resolution that would have allowed for the establishment of a mechanism to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

This directive reportedly came amid heavy diplomatic pressure from Russia, which is deeply involved in the ongoing Syrian civil war and which did not want its military implicated in any international probes.

Exclusive: UK condemns Kerry after settlements speech

Britain has issued an unprecedented rebuke of its closest ally America following a speech by John Kerry on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The unprecedented statement came after the US Secretary of State delivered a withering attack on Israel’s settlement policy that was seen by Jerusalem as “obsessively” focused on the issue over all others.

In his speech yesterday, Kerry warned that the possibility of a two-state reality was being out in grave danger and branded the governing coalition in Israel as “the most right wing in history” with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.

A British government spokesperson said: “We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this cases the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex.

“And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally. The Government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community.”

Last Friday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution against settlements by 14 votes to zero, with a the US breaking with tradition to abstain rather than veto the text. The passage of the motion provoked an unprecedented diplomatic rift between the US and Israel, while Israel limited trips by ministers to all those countries that backed the motion.

In recent days, Israeli officials have also alleged that the UK helped draft the motion and then pushed New Zealand to bring it back to the table after it was dropped by Egypt.

The UK spokesperson said: “The British Government continues to believe that the only way to a lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution.

“We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal, which is why we supported UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week. But we are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”

Amid the diplomatic fallout, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office was also forced to deny a planned meeting with Theresa May had been cancelled.