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Settlers banned

Last updated: 2008-08-07

British Embassy - photo: Aviad2001

British Embassy - photo: Aviad2001

Israeli settlers will no longer be invited to events at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Crispin Blunt MP, who is closely involved with Arab lobby groups, had complained after finding out that three leaders of the settlers' movement were among the guests at a party to mark the 82nd birthday of the Queen.

Blunt, a longtime supporter of the Arab and Palestinian causes, raised the issue in Parliament last month and in a letter to Dr Kim Howell, the minister at the British Foreign Office.

Blunt wrote that the invitation gives the impression of weakening in the governments long held position that settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and that entertaining the pioneers of this colonisation movement has given the strong impression that Britain tacitly endorses it or no longer objects to it.

Howell promised Blunt that Israeli settlers would no longer be invited to embassy events.

The British ambassador to Israel hosts an annual reception at his Ramat Gan residence to celebrate the Queen's birthday.

Three members of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization representing settlers in the West Bank, were among the hundreds of invited guests.

In his reply, Howell assured Blunt that the British position regarding the settlements was unchanged. Howell also reminded Blunt that Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised the issue during his visit to Israel last month.

(c) JTA