Early last week, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron dropped a diplomatic bombshell.
Speaking to Conservative members of Parliament in London's House of Commons, Cameron seemingly reversed decades of long-standing policy when he said that the UK, together with its allies, "will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations."
"This," he added, "could be one of the things that help to make this process irreversible."
A few days later, on a trip to Lebanon, Cameron doubled down and went still further, suggesting that Britain might officially recognize a Palestinian state even before a possible agreement would be concluded between the parties.
Although British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak subsequently downplayed Cameron's remarks, saying they had been "overinterpreted," the comments are striking not only for being tone-deaf but especially because of their intolerable hypocrisy.
To begin with, Cameron's statements were made at the height of a war as thousands of young Israeli troops were busy risking their lives battling Hamas terrorists in Gaza, where 136 Israelis are being held hostage.
Inexplicably, despite the bullets and bombs still flying, Cameron saw fit to publicly suggest giving the Palestinians a reward for their heinous Oct. 7 assault on the Jewish state.
But what makes his statements even more astonishing is their head-turning, hypocritical hubris.
British hubris: Holding onto disputed land all over the world
Britain, after all, is the last country in a position to demand that others give up territory for the simple reason that it continues to hold onto disputed lands literally across the globe.
Indeed, from Europe to South America to the Middle East to the South Pole, there is hardly a part of the world in which the UK isn't involved in a dispute over territory that it refuses to yield for the sake of peace.
In its own backyard, Britain continues to occupy Northern Ireland and has staunchly refused to give up sovereignty.
On the southern coast of Spain, there is the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, which the Spanish government has long sought to recover. Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has said that Gibraltar is a "vitally important issue" in his country's foreign policy. But London has steadfastly insisted that it will not forgo control.
Thousands of miles away across the Atlantic lie the Falkland Islands, which are claimed by Argentina. Although they are of little economic value and are home to more penguins than people, Britain fought a war with Argentina over the islands in 1982 which left 900 people dead.
Speaking of penguins, the British have even staked a claim to a large chunk of Antarctica amounting to more than 1.7 million square kilometers of the South Pole. The United States and many other nations refuse to recognize the UK claim to portions of the polar desert, but that has not deterred the Brits from insisting that those portions belong to them.
Closer to home are the British-occupied parts of Cyprus. Although the UK granted the island independence in 1960 after 82 years of colonial rule, it persists in clinging to 254 sq.km. of Cypriot territory in the form of the Akrotiri and Dhekelia military bases, which are under British sovereignty, much to the chagrin of many locals.
But perhaps the greatest example of all is the one that is the least known: the Chagos Archipelago, a chain of 60 islands in the Indian Ocean about 500 km. south of the Maldives.
Britain has occupied the Chagos since 1814, and Mauritius claims the islands as its own.
But that did not prevent the UK from forcibly uprooting and expelling the 2,000 Chagossians, as the locals were known, between 1967 and 1971 to make way for a military base intended to be leased to the US.
For more than 50 years, the Chagossians have been lobbying to be allowed to return. In 2019, the International Court of Justice declared that Britain's control over the Chagos was "unlawful," and in 2021 the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea deemed the British claim to the islands to be illegal.
Remarkably, just days before Cameron announced that Israel should give up parts of its ancestral patrimony to create a Palestinian state, he issued a statement declaring that the Chagossians could not return to their own islands.
As The Guardian reported on January 26, Cameron "provoked fury by abruptly ruling out the resettlement of former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands, months after his predecessor revealed that the UK was discussing their potential return."
In other words, even as Cameron preaches one thing to Israel, he does precisely the opposite when it comes to Britain and its interests.
NEEDLESS TO say, unlike the UK's dubious claims to various territories worldwide, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza belong to the Jewish people, and Israel has every right – morally, historically, theologically, and militarily – to be there.
As the late American politician and ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson once said, "A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation."
While redwoods are a relatively recent arrival in the UK, having been introduced there in the 1850s, they have an extended lifespan, sometimes reaching well over 1,000 years.
Sadly, it seems, so too does British hypocrisy.