Jewish community leaders in Britain canceled a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to London last week after Israel pressured them to do so, according to two senior Israeli officials.
The officials said representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israeli Embassy in London had pushed for the meeting to be called off, while the British government sought to convince the Jewish leaders to hold the meeting.
“The message from Jerusalem was that since Abu Mazen [Abbas] doesn’t want to meet with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, there’s no reason for the Jewish community to give him legitimacy for free,” one of the sources said. “In the wake of this message, many of the invitees said they wouldn’t come, and the event was canceled.” Netanyahu’s bureau denied the report, while the Israeli Embassy in London refused to comment.
The meeting was supposed to be one of several Abbas has held with Jewish leaders around the world in an effort to increase pressure on the Netanyahu government to move forward with peace talks. Such meetings have taken place in various cities around the world, including New York, Washington, Paris and Buenos Aires.
Abbas did hold two private meetings, one with about 10 businesspeople, some of them Jewish, and the other with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and the billionaire chairman of Clinique Laboratories.
Lauder, whose meeting was also attended by Latin American Jewish leaders, said Jewish and Palestinian communities around the world could help achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. He reportedly told Abbas that Judaism advocated making peace with one’s neighbors.