Cameron declares himself a Zionist
UK Conservative leader talks tough on Hamas, blasts boycott campaigns.
By JONNY PAUL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 13, 2007 21:51
3 minute read.
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"I am a Zionist," Conservative Party leader David Cameron told an audience of party supporters of Israel in London on Tuesday.
"If what you mean by Zionist, is someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then, yes, I am a Zionist and I'm proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about," Cameron declared.
The Conservative leader was guest of honor at the Conservative Friends of Israel annual business lunch, which was attended by some 500 people - including half the parliamentary party, 30 Conservative parliamentary candidates, former leaders, lords and Israel's ambassador.
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Cameron spoke with Daniel Finkelstein, columnist and comment editor of The Times, and gave an insight to what his premiership might look like regarding Israel. The Conservative Party has led the polls in the UK for the last 18 months.
Cameron took a firm stance on Hamas, saying that the state of Israel "has a totally legitimate right to exist and defend itself."
Cameron emphasized the importance of Hamas complying with the Quartet's demands before they receive any Western money or support.
"[Hamas must] recognize the state of Israel... put an end to violence and accept previous agreements," he stressed.
Finkelstein asked Cameron if he were "good for the Jews," to which Cameron replied: "I hope I can say I'm not just a good friend of Israel but I am, as you put it, good for Jews."
Cameron said his political philosophy - which was about trusting and believing in families, voluntary enterprise, and the charitable sector - was exemplified by British Jews.
In addition, the Conservative leader also said he believed there was something "in the DNA" of Conservatives that was "profoundly impressed" by what Israel has achieved.
Cameron said he understood the need to build a security fence, but that he was worried it would "make a two-state solution more difficult."
He said he realized that this was not necessarily a popular observation, but that being a "true friend to Israel... [meant] being a candid friend and saying when you think that mistakes are being made."
Nevertheless, Cameron said, a deal should only happen if it meant that Israel would really gain peace within its borders and real guarantees about its future.
Finkelstein acknowledged that Prime Minister Tony Blair has been a genuine friend to Israel and asked Cameron if he saw things similarly to Blair.
"Where Tony Blair is right is that he sees with absolute clarity... that Israel is a democracy and that Israel is a country that has a right to its own legitimate self-defense," Cameron replied.
"Where I slightly part company with [Blair] is that while I think a two-state solution is vital... I think sometimes politicians can be a bit naive in believing that if only we solved the problem of Israel and Palestine then roadside bombs will stop going off in Iraq," he added to huge applause.
A two-state solution would not solve all the problems between militant Islam and the West, Cameron emphasized.
Asked about recent campaigns to boycott and delegitimize Israel, Cameron said there was no justification for a boycott. "Israel is a democratic country and these Trotskyists [a reference to the radical Left, who forefront the boycott campaign] are treating Israel as some sort of pariah state," Cameron said. "[They] may be a bunch of lunatics, but what they are doing is profoundly wrong and profoundly damaging," he added.
Cameron also thought that attacks on Israel could spill over into anti-Semitism. "I think our mayor [Ken Livingstone] in this great city of London... is guilty of that," he said.