LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday reaffirmed his
commitment to Israel, saying that his belief in Israel is
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Speaking at a dinner for the Community Security Trust,
which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in
the UK, the prime minister said he wants to build a strong and productive
relationship with Israel.
“With me you have a prime minister whose belief
in Israel is indestructible. And you have a prime minister who wants to build a
strong and productive relationship with Israel,” he told the audience of over
1,100 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, central London.
always be a strong defender of the Jewish people. I will always be an
advocate for the State of Israel,” he said.
Cameron said that he has
instructed Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, to make one of his top
priorities the building of a new partnership between the hi-tech economies of
Israel and Britain.
In reference to the rocket and missile attacks from
Gaza, the prime minister said that Israel has a right to protect
“When rockets are being launched at Israeli citizens, and when
children are in danger, Israel is within its rights to protect its people,” he
He also told guests that Israel has a right to search vessels
“When over 100 rockets are fired into Israel from Gaza in
one year, Israel is within its rights to search vessels bringing cargo into
“But just as the Palestinian Authority has made significant steps
to shoulder its responsibility, tackling violence from the West Bank, Israel
needs to engineer a real drive to help improve life for ordinary Palestinians,”
The prime minister said emphatically that anti-Semitism was
“abhorrent” to him, vowing that he “will never rest” while the Jewish community
in Britain feels under threat.
“A Jewish friend asked me the other day
will it be safe for my children and grandchildren to live here? The answer to
that question will always be ‘yes,’” Cameron said.
“Instead of ignoring
extremism we have to confront it in all its forms, wherever it is found. That
means, yes, banning preachers of hate from coming to our country. It means
proscribing organizations that incite terrorism, and yes, it means stopping
extremist groups from getting an audience on our university
Addressing the Jewish community’s and Israel’s concern over an
“insidious shift from legitimate debate to illegitimate intimidation,” the prime
minister said that “it is absolutely right that in Britain’s universities,
students and faculty should be able to criticize Israel, just as they can
criticize any country, or any government, any politician."
“But it is
absolutely wrong that in any of our universities there should be an environment
where students are scared to express their Judaism or their Zionism freely. It
is absolutely wrong that universities should allow speakers to spread messages
of anti-Semitism and hate."
“And it is absolutely wrong for any university
authorities to duck their responsibilities to ensure a clear line between free
speech, which is a fundamental right, and intimidation, which is fundamentally
wrong,” he said.
In reference to Universal Jurisdiction, the law
exploited by pro-Palestinian activists to threaten to arrest Israeli dignitaries
who enter the UK on “war crimes” charges, Cameron said his government has acted
but needs to do more.
“In the same way when the UK’s laws were used to
try and arrest Israeli politicians who visit our country, without any real
prospect of prosecution, this government pledged to act: changing the law so
people don’t fear coming here. That’s what I said we would do on
Universal Jurisdiction. That is what we have done. But we need to
He also recognized that Israel is sometimes unfairly treated
and judged differently.
“Some people try to judge Israel’s government by
a higher code of conduct than they would apply to their own government,” he
Turning to the Middle East, the prime minister warned that now was
not the time “to park” the peace process.
He urged Israel to seize the
initiative in the negotiations with the Palestinians, saying that it was
“absolutely vital” to secure this historic opportunity for peace and stability
in the region. Rather we should use developments in the region to try to drive
forward progress, not hold it up.
“And yes, it means meeting the road map
obligation to halt illegal settlement activity, as the resolution Britain
supported at the UN Security Council last month underlines,” he said.
called on Israel help improve life for ordinary Palestinians, by allowing more
humanitarian goods into Gaza and more support for economic development in the
The prime minister paid tribute to Britain’s Jewish community
for its sense of national pride and contribution to the wider community. He also
praised the work of the CST.