British MP on solidarity mission to Sderot

British Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), met with Vice Premier Haim Ramon Tuesday morning to discuss the situation in Sderot. "These rockets must stop," Arbuthnot said. He plans to visit Sderot, where a rocket landed near a nursery school Monday at the start of the school year, on Thursday to see for himself the effect the rockets have had, and as a sign of solidarity with the local residents. "After Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza it is intolerable for the people of southern Israel to live under the threat of daily rocket fire," Arbuthnot said. "In an appallingly cynical move, Hamas have allowed the rocket fire from Gaza to be stepped up to coincide with the beginning of the school term. That is why I fully understand today's statement by Mr. Ramon, who has suggested that Israel should temporarily suspend electricity and water supplies to Gaza following future Kassam rocket attacks on Israel." Arbuthnot has met President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his visit. He plans to meet with chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat before his return to the UK. Arbuthnot has been chairman of the House of Commons Defense Committee since 2005. CFI is one of the largest political groups in the UK. More than two-thirds of Conservative MPs are members and the group has activists all over the UK. CFI regularly lobbies Conservative MPs, Lords, European Parliament members and advisers to argue Israel's case.