311_UK ambassador Gould.
(photo credit: Courtesy of British Embassy )
With the worst violence Britain has faced in decades apparently on the wane, UK
Ambassador Matthew Gould said Thursday that London was safe for Israeli
tourists, students and businessmen.
“There is no reason in the world for
Israeli tourists, or students, or people planning to go to the Olympics [in 2012] to cancel their trips,” Gould said. “We will make sure the Olympics are fun and spectacular,” he said, adding that British security forces have an “elaborate security plan in place.”
UK's Cameron: I'll consider using army in future riots
Gould, in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post, said he understood why Israel issued a travel advisory Wednesday
cautioning its citizens visiting England.
“I think it was a perfectly
sensible thing to do,” he said.
“We would do the same thing. It makes
sense. If there is violence and riots, you tell your citizens to avoid the
violence and keep their eyes wide open.”
Gould said that with “one small
exception happening in a specific place,” the violence that both rocked and
shocked Britain this week was not in places where Israeli tourists or
businesspeople generally go.
“More importantly, the situation is being
brought under control.”
Asked if he thought there was anything the
British police could learn from Israel about how to deal with the rioting, Gould
said that while “there are always things to learn from each other,” what Britain
faced this week was “gang violence and criminality, pure and simple. You had
outbreaks of gang violence and looting and rioting in a number of places all at
the same time. This is a new phenomenon, a new threat we are going to have to deal with.”
question in reverse, whether Israel – which quite possibly could face waves of
Palestinian rioters in September – could learn from Britain’s current situation,
Gould responded that it was a big mistake to draw a line between what is
happening, and political protests in the West Bank, Rothschild Boulevard in Tel
Aviv or anywhere else.
“What’s been happening in London is not about
politics,” he said. “A political agenda is not being heard.”
He said the
rioters in London and other British cities were “young thugs” on a “power trip”
who thought they could loot, burn and steal with impunity.
Gould, what the British government needed to do, and was intent on doing now
through massive arrests, was to show there are “consequences for
Asked whether that was true in Israel as well, and specifically
in regards to Israel’s reactions to missile fire from Gaza, Gould said there
were certain basic principles that all could agree upon, one of them being that
violence and breaking the law and threats to life and property is not
“States have a legitimate right to act within the law to deal
with those threats, and where the situation poses particular risks, to take
action within the law to deal with them.”
This legitimate right, he said,
“applies universally. Israel’s right to self-defense, to protect its
citizens, to respond to threats against its citizens is not something we would
The question that must always be asked, he said, is how
this right is exercised, and whether it is exercised lawfully and in a
Britain, Gould said, will be asking itself difficult
questions about why and how these riots erupted, where were the parents whose
children were out marauding, and what can be done about the gangs.
dismissed the notion that the violence was a result of a desperation that exists
in certain sectors of British society, saying that many of those who took part
in the riots had jobs and prospects, but simply felt there were no consequences
for their actions.