Yuval Steinitz 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
"It's difficult to say" if Britain was still a friend of Israel, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview published in London's The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday but he hoped British Foreign Secretary William Hague's visit to Israel on Thursday would improve relations.
"Traditionally we had good relations with Britain and currently we have good intelligence cooperation with Britain and it's very successful," Steinitz told the Telegraph. He added that Israel was "concerned about the relations," citing some animosity and incitement in the Britain media and NGOs made against Israel.
Steinitz said he was dissapointed that British scientist Stephen Hawking had withdrawn
from a June conference held by President Shimon Peres saying more generally that some Israelis believe that there is a kind of double standard with regard to academic boycotts of Israel.
"I didn't hear that Prof Hawking or other British academics, who are so easily boycotting Israel, are boycotting other Middle East countries. Or if they have reservations about America invading Iraq, they so easily boycott American universities" Steinitz said.
Steinitz questioned why support of Israel among the British public is "much less" than in the other Anglo Saxon democracies the US, Canada and Australia. "When you think that all four are Anglo-Saxon democracies, why should people in America, Australia or Canada have different relations to or appreciations of the minuscule Jewish state than the people of Britain," the minister queried, adding that this difference may be reflected in the British Foreign Office and British government policy.
Steinitz rejected that the Jewish settlements in the West Bank threatened the possibility of reaching a two state solution with the Palestinians citing Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula as part of the 1979 Israel Egypt peace treaty as proof that Israel was able to make concessions for peace.
"I think those allegations about the settlements are fundamentally wrong. To come to Israel and say why are you doing this and this, this is totally wrong," Steinitz said.