David Cameron’s full speech to Conservative Friends of Israel lunchby The Commentator
It’s a real pleasure to be back here at the CFI lunch.
There are some people I want to thank Michael Heller for hosting us, James Arbuthnot – who does a fantastic job leading CFI in Parliament and of course, Ambassador Daniel Taub for joining us today.
Let me start by saying this:
Two and a half years into my job as Prime Minister, it’s true that I’ve changed in some ways. But there is something that has absolutely, categorically not changed about me – and that is my commitment to Israel.
I’m not an acquaintance of Israel.
I’m not a colleague of Israel.
I am a passionate friend of Israel – and that’s the way it’s going to stay.
So it’s great to be here today. It is a fantastic job that Stuart and the CFI team do in getting people out to Israel – because seeing really is believing.
It’s only when you visit the Lebanese border as I have done, when you look through binoculars and see the Hezbollah flags just hundreds of yards away, that you can really understand the fear that so many Israelis live with day-in, day-out.
It is vital, important work CFI does in getting people out there on the ground in Israel – and I want to thank you for that.
Now for years in Opposition we celebrated the contribution of British Jews in our country. We promised to stand up for Israel and in Government that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We said it was ridiculous that Israeli officials felt unable to visit Britain because of the malicious and unfounded use of arrest warrants so we changed the law to end it.
We said we wouldn’t allow preachers of hate into our country – and al Qaradawi had the door to Britain slammed in his face.
And while we’re on al Qaradawi, let’s remember: we helped keep in the Mayor who talks up the Jewish community rather than talking it down and helped keep out the Mayor of London who cosied up to poisonous ideologues.
We said we’d resist calls for boycotts on Israel and yes – we are going to keep on working with Israel, doing business with Israel, trading with Israel.
It’s been two years since I last spoke at this lunch and a lot has happened in that time.
Turmoil in the Eurozone, endless emergency summits, an Arab spring, war in Libya.
But I would argue the biggest change of all is the one that’s being felt everywhere from the trading floors of Wall Street to the factory floors of Jakarta.
It’s the global race we’re in today.
Countries in the South and East surging forward. The West slowing down. Europe faltering.
This is a crucial moment for countries like ours: do or decline, when we sink or we swim.
Our success has got to making hard choices, paying down our debts, sorting out our welfare systems, shaking up our schools.
That is what we’re doing.
The deficit – cut by one quarter in two years.
Welfare – undergoing its most profound change for generations.
And crucially, we are replacing that scandalous tolerance of mediocrity in education with a pursuit of excellence, tougher exams, harder subjects, more discipline, no more excuses for failure.
And let me celebrate the people in this room who have invested in Academies and free schools that are transforming state education – David Meller, Stanley Fink, Gerald Ronson, Jonathan Green – you are pioneers of Britain’s education revolution and of the Big Society and we salute you for the work you are doing.
All of this adds up to the big mission of this government: making sure that in this century, as in the last – Britain is on the rise.
And if we’re looking for other countries that can help inspire us in this global race, there’s no doubt in my mind that one of them is Israel.
We hear all this talk about the BRIC countries versus the rest of us, but Israel is growing faster than Russia – and almost twice as fast as Brazil.
It’s got more start-up businesses per head than any other country.
The big question is: how do they do it?
Yes, it’s about Israel getting its debts down, investing in education, signing free trade agreements, but it’s more than that – it’s about the aspiration and drive of its people.
These are people who have innovated around every problem that life has thrown at them.
The land is dry – so they come up with new water technology.
There’s little oil – so they find other energy alternatives.
So we want to work much more closely with Israel – on innovation, on technology.
Just last week the UK-Israel Tech Hub and UKTI brought 19 Israeli tech companies over here to meet the best of British companies and investors.
And I am delighted to announce today that we are appointing Saul Klein, someone with huge experience in early-stage investment, to be the UK’s first tech envoy to Israel.
Now clearly, for countries to succeed in this global race, the most important thing is long-term stability and security.
And for Israel that means three things:
Supporting the Arab Spring;
Second, getting the Peace Process back on track;
And third, getting it right on Iran.
I want to say something about each of those three.
First, Israel must have the right response to the Arab Spring.
Now I know that while the rest of the world was watching those jubilant scenes in Tahrir Square and celebrating, a lot of people in Israel felt real fear.
And I get that.
I’ve never had to run for cover as the air-raids sound overhead.
I’ve never had to give gas masks to my children.
I do understand that for the Israeli people, uncertainty isn’t such a great thing.
It means instability. Anxiety. Fear.
But I profoundly believe that – in the end – open, democratic societies are not part of the problem, they are part of the solution.
To those who say – democracy cannot take root in the Arab world, I say just look back sixty-odd years; look to post-war Europe.
How many people questioned whether the failed Central European states could ever embrace democracy after the war, and how wrong these people turned out to be.
So the answer mustn’t be to stand in the way of democracy, the answer is to respect the outcome of elections but then judge governments by what they do.
If they help broker ceasefires – we should praise them. If they turn their backs on democracy – we should criticise them.
We’ve got to have faith in what we’ve seen to be true – that in the long term, democracy is the best path to peace. And that’s why I believe Israel should welcome the Arab Spring.
The second crucial step for long-term stability is getting the Peace Process back on track – as a matter of urgency.
Because here’s the thing about the two-state solution.
Of course it is in the interests of Palestinians to have a state of their own – but it is in Israel’s vital interests too.
It is the only way to secure long term peace and security. And frankly; time is running out.
If we don’t seize the opportunity for peace, the two-state solution may become impossible, and that I believe would be a disaster not just for the Palestinians, but for Israelis too.
To me it is clear what needs to happen. We need the US administration to give this priority. We need Europe to act even-handedly. We need the Palestinians to understand there is only one path to statehood, and that is through negotiations with Israel. We made that clear with that UN vote a couple of weeks ago.
We said that Britain could not support a resolution that set back the prospects for peace and that did not commit the Palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions.
Well: they did not provide the assurances that we asked for.
So while the Labour Party were urging unconditional support for this unilateral Palestinian step, we – in this party, in this government – did not vote for it.
And I have made something else clear that needs to be made clear to the Palestinians.
Britain will never tolerate the obscenity of a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.
So, in Gaza too, Hamas need to know that they must renounce violence and they will not be allowed to dictate the way forward in the peace process.
Last month, when rockets rained down on Israel, we were unequivocal about the right of Israelis to live free from attack by terrorist groups on their border.
But there are things that I have and will continue to make clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu aswell.
My view is simple: anything that hurts the peace process hurts Israel. That is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about settlements.
Israel’s decision last week both to authorise the construction of 3,000 more housing units – and to un-freeze the planning process in the critical E1 district – undoubtedly hurts the peace process.
It poses a real threat to the last hope for a two-state solution.
But while the last couple of weeks have made this process more difficult. I passionately believe the prize for Israel and this region is far too great for us to let up or get disheartened now.
As a friend of Israel I want us to do whatever we can to reach that ultimate objective: two states, two democracies, living side by side, in peace.
Of course there is another clear and present danger facing Israel, and that is Iran.
A nuclear programme that continues to threaten the region; six United Nations resolutions flouted; terror exported to Iraq, to Syria, to Gaza, to Lebanon, to countries right across the world.
Now I don’t believe, as some do; a nuclear-armed Iran is just going to be a fact of life, nor that military action is now just a question of when, not if.
The fact is that the sanctions are having a major impact, helped by the regime’s own chronic economic mismanagement.
The Rial has plummeted. Inflation is soaring. Oil exports are down dramatically.
And all this is cranking up the pressure on the regime.
They know that there is a way out of all this – and that’s to give the international community the confidence we need that they are not developing a nuclear weapon.
Now I know that time for this approach is starting to run out, but we must give it every chance of working.
That’s why I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu that now is the time for tough diplomacy, not for military action. Military action that could have grave consequences for the region.
It would only give more fire-power to the regime – a cause to rally its people around, a foreign enemy to hate, and we cannot give that beleaguered regime more oxygen.
Instead, we have got to give these sanctions time to work.
But let me be absolutely clear, if Iran makes the wrong choice – nothing – and I mean nothing – is off the table.
Britain will work relentlessly to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, not just for the sake of Israel, but for the peace and security of the world.
Let me just end by reiterating where I stand – and that is with Israel.
We stand with Israel when it is attacked. As a friend of Israel I will always stand by the Jewish people.
And I hope I’ve conveyed to you my hope for the future. I look forward to the day when the relationship between Britain and Israel is about prosperity more than about security, to the day when the Jewish people can see the future not with uncertainty but with hope, and as a friend of Israel I will work with you till that day comes.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
PM Cameron Pretends to be a Friend of Israel
Actions speak louder than words. And from what I've seen of his policies overall, Cameron is not a friend of Israel. While Cameron’s speech starts off seemingly as though he supports Israel, he then proceeds to lecture and warn Israel about “settlements” and warning it not to take military action against Iran. So although he claims to want to prevent Iran from getting nukes, he is against the only action that will stop it. The conclusion to be drawn is that Cameron is willing to accept a nuclear armed Iran. So any claim to the contrary rings hollow. He also talks up the “arab spring” as being good for Israel when what it really is, is a muslim brotherhood, salafi jihadist revolution and a grave threat to Israel. So much for Cameron’s proclamations of being a great friend of Israel. This speech does nothing to convince me.