Cameron castigates Miliband over MPs’ vote on ‘Palestine’

In a clear message to Jewish voters, Cameron said Labor in general and Miliband in particular had shown “their true colors on Israel.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron. (photo credit: REUTERS)
British Prime Minister David Cameron.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – British Premier David Cameron launched a strong pre-election attack on opposition leader Ed Miliband Tuesday for forcing his Labor Party MPs to vote for early recognition of a Palestinian state in Parliament two months ago.
Addressing nearly 700 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s largest annual lunch, which included several cabinet colleagues and many of his Conservative Party’s 150 MPs, Cameron noted there were just 142 days before the UK’s May 7 general election.
In a clear message to Jewish voters, he said Labor in general and Miliband in particular had shown “their true colors on Israel.”
Recalling the October House of Commons vote on recognizing a state of Palestine, he noted that there had been a cross-party consensus for many years that in effect stated, “We only recognize the State of Palestine when there is a genuine two-state solution – and [when] Israel’s future is truly secure.”
Yet Miliband used a vote “he could easily have avoided or walked away from, not just breaking that consensus, but actively whipping his own colleagues to support the motion,” he continued.
“That is the Labor leader we are now faced with, and he has to be defeated,” Cameron declared to loud applause.
He also noted that in local government, the Labor Party governed two city councils where boycotts of Israel recently featured. In Leicester last month, the city council promoted a boycott of Israeli goods, while in the west London borough of Brent in August, Labor supported the Tricycle theater in banning a Jewish film festival.
The Conservative Party leader drew further applause when he added, “Unlike Labor, we in this party oppose boycotts. And let me remind you of what I said to the Knesset: ‘Delegitimizing the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent – and together we will defeat it.’” Earlier, Cameron described himself as a friend of Israel “through thick and thin,” and praised Israel as particularly extraordinary considering where it was.
“On its doorstep, the barbarism of ISIL [Islamic State], the tyranny of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, Hamas and Hezbollah a missile’s distance away, Iran looming nearby with nuclear ambitions, and terrorists all around, hell-bent on doing [Israel] harm, like those last month who brutally murdered four rabbis as they prayed,” he said. The last referred to the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.
Nonetheless, he expressed criticism of settlement-building.
“True friends will always try to offer you good advice, and this is why I will always tell Israel that illegal settlements are a bad idea,” he said.
He made clear that settlements did not advance the likelihood of peace or security for Israel, for which he said he knew its people were praying.
“They make that aspiration less likely,” he said. “And when I went to Jerusalem earlier this year, my message to the Knesset was this: Yes, we will tell you when we think you are wrong, but we will always defend your right to defend yourselves.”
In reference to the summer’s conflict in Gaza, he observed that Hamas had rained rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept cease-fires.
“As Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu said, and I agree with this, every word: Israel uses missile defense to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its missiles. There can never be any equivalence between the two.”