David Cameron 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is likely to prove itself “more
collectively sympathetic to Israel” than the previous Labor government, Jonathan
Arkush, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said on
The new Conservative-led government “has no one to compare to
[former Labor prime ministers] Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who, each for their
own particular reasons, were extremely supportive,” said Arkush, whose visit to
Israel will include meetings with government officials.
Blair, he said,
paid a high political price for his support of Israel during the Second
War, and Brown grew up in a Scottish Presbyterian household where
seen “as part of God’s plan,” he noted.
But “collectively, the
Conservative party has more Israel supporters” than Labor, he said. And
the Liberal-Democrat junior coalition partners “are collectively
to Israel,” he continued, “on the Middle East as in other areas, they
to play along” with their senior partner.
Arkush noted that the Foreign
Office minister responsible for this area, Alistair Burt, was a member
Conservative Friends of Israel, and said the Lib-Dems “were deliberately
away from sensitive places” in the Foreign Office.
Nick Clegg, the
Lib-Dem leader who is now deputy prime minister, “would not be allowed”
repeat the calls he made for a halt in arms sales to Israel during
Cast Lead if there were a similar flareup, said Arkush.
in parliament, he said, “the majority is unsympathetic to Israel.”
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still support a twostate solution,” he elaborated, “but there’s a
Israel is the great wrongdoer and treats the Palestinians badly… There’s
siding with the perceived underdog.”
Still, the UK Jewish leader said
that a House of Commons Middle East debate on Monday was notably
addressing Israel in the wake of the flotilla affair, which marked a
the “knee-jerk anti-Israel hostility” in parliament and in the media in
immediate aftermath of the bloody flotilla interception. He said the
turning point” was the publication of IDF footage of those on board the Mavi
beating Israeli commandos and the release of pictures
weaponry found on board.
Arkush noted, however, that Sir Gerald Kaufman,
one of Israel’s strongest critics in parliament, spoke as “notoriously”
in the debate.
Kaufman branded the Netanyahu government “the most
extremist government it [Israel] has ever had, under the most extremist
minister it has ever had, and a foreign minister who is an avowed
“Israel,” added Kaufman, “is allowed literally to get away with
murder. Only punitive international action will make even the tiniest
difference. That means an arms ban, and the kind of sanctions that were
by the senior president [George] Bush on Yitzhak Shamir to force him to
participate in international talks in Madrid.”
He went on: “Let us be
clear that we cannot appeal to the conscience and good will of a country
has not demonstrated that it has either quality…” Kaufman, who is
declared that “this Israel does not want a two-state solution, but the
alternative is a one-state solution… It took the Jews 2,000 years to get
homeland in what is now Israel. After 60 years in that homeland, they
throwing it all away.”
Arkush said he was worried about the impact of the
activities of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against
within sections of the trade union movement and parts of the church, and
castigated coverage of Israel in the BBC, Guardian
most British newspapers, however, as being pro-Israel.
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