george osbourne 88.
(photo credit: courtesy)
Conservative MP and shadow chancellor George Osbourne paid tribute to Israel's achievements on Wednesday, saying a trip to the Jewish state in 2004 in which he experienced the aftermath of a suicide-bombing shaped his understanding of the country.
"It's an objective view of what Israel has achieved during its existence and the way it represents freedom and democracy in a part of the world that is not familiar with freedom and democracy," Osbourne also said when asked the source of his views.
Osbourne was speaking with Daniel Finkelstein, columnist and comment editor of the Times, and shadow foreign secretary William Hague, at the Conservative Friends of Israel's annual business lunch at the Dorchester Hotel in central London.
More than 500 guests, including Israel's ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, members of Parliament, European Parliament, the House of Lords, and the Greater London Assembly attended the event.
On November 1, 2004, Osbourne saw at first hand the results of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market that killed three people and wounded more than 35. He said it made "a very powerful impression on what Israel is up against."
During that trip, he added, he and four MPs including current-London Mayor Boris Johnson ended up singing patriotic Israeli songs in a Tel Aviv karaoke bar.
Speaking about Iran, Osbourne said: "We should not rule out military options. It's not the same as ruling in military options, but it does mean not ruling them out, and I think we have to be very hard-headed and realistic about the world in which we live."
"We would have like to have seen a more energetic approach by the current [UK] government and we are critical of them," Hague said. "Gordon Brown announced sanctions on Iranian oil and gas last November; he announced it again last week, and still nothing has taken place."
Hague also said that Britain or Israel should not negotiate directly with Hamas.