Prime Minister David Cameron demonstrated his “unbreakable” solidarity with Israel with a rousing speech to the Israeli Knesset in March, on his first official visit to the country as Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister spoke at length on a number of issues including; Israel’s security concerns, his abhorrence at international attempts to delegitimise Israel, his vision of a future peace, and his promise to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
During the visit, Prime Minister Cameron signed deals with top Israeli medical and pharmaceutical companies, bringing in £70 million investment to the UK. The Prime Minister also met with Israel’s President Shimon Peres, and laid a wreath at an emotional service at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister was joined by a CFI-led delegation of 5 Conservative MPs, including CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman James Clappison MP, Matthew Offord MP, David Burrowes MP, Lee Scott MP, and Mike Freer MP.
Speech to Knesset
Prime Minister Cameron told the Knesset that his commitment to Israel’s security “will always be rock solid”, and underlined: “with me, you have a British Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable.”
On Israel’s security
The Prime Minister urged that he would “always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens”.
Referring to Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Prime Minister Cameron stated that he understood the “concern of Israelis who have seen land that Israel has pulled out of, becoming a base for terrorist attacks.”
I understand the concern of Israelis who have seen land that Israel has pulled out of, becoming a base for terrorist attacks. And I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens. A right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality, and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her allies.
The Prime Minister strongly asserted Britain’s opposition to “abhorrent” boycotts of Israel: “To those…who want to boycott Israel, I have a clear message: Britain opposes boycotts”.
Prime Minister David Cameron: “Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong. It’s abhorrent. And together we’ll defeat it.”
He declared that “Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people” was founded in the “spirit and strength” of the Israeli people, in international law, and the achievements of its economy and democracy.
The Prime Minister highlighted that Israel was founded as a country that “pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian Arab or Druze.”
It is founded in the spirit and strength of your people. It is founded in international law. It is founded in the resolve of all of your allies to protect an international system that was forged in our darkest days, to put right historic wrongs. It is founded in the achievements of your economy and your democracy – a country pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian Arab or Druze.
It is your destiny. Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong. It’s abhorrent. And together we will defeat it.
On the subject of Iran, the Prime Minister said that he shared Israel’s “deep scepticism and great concern”, urging that he was not “starry eyed about the new regime.”
Prime Minister David Cameron: “A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world – not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.”
The Prime Minister warned that the “threat of a nuclear-armed Iran” presented one of the greatest challenges in the region, alongside “poisonous” Islamist extremism, stating that only “sustained international pressure” would cause Iran to abandon its nuclear intentions.
Take Iran. Israel is not the cause of the shadow that Iran casts over the world. There is no rule that says if Israel and the Palestinians make peace, Iran is somehow going to dismantle its despotic regime or abandon its nuclear intentions. That can only be done through sustained international pressure. I share your deep scepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world – not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.
On the Peace Process
The Prime Minister asserted that the achievement of a two-state solution would mean for Israel to be “like any other democratic nation – finally treated fairly and normally by all.”
The Prime Minister stated that a final peace deal must ensure that Israel’s security concerns are addressed and not “Broken by Hamas firing rockets at you or Iranian proxies smuggling weapons through the Jordan Valley.”
He underlined that a “proper lasting peace” must be accomplished, with no chance of a “failed state on Israel’s border.”
The Prime Minister additionally stated there would be “No more excuses for the 32 countries in the UN who refuse to recognise Israel” and an “end to the outrageous lectures on human rights” that Israel receives from despotic nations at the UN.
Imagine Israel – like any other democratic nation – finally treated fairly and normally by all. On security, imagine a peace deal that would leave Israel more secure, not less secure. Not a temporary deal, broken by Hamas firing rockets at you or Iranian proxies smuggling weapons through the Jordan Valley. But a proper lasting peace that allows a strong moderate Palestinian government to end the fears of a failed state on Israel’s border. A deal that means an end of all claims – and an end of all conflict.
On UK-Israel bilateral ties
The Prime Minister detailed Britain and Israel’s flourishing bilateral ties in trade, science and technology, stating that he was “proud to be pursing the strongest and deepest possible relationship.”
He highlighted the fact that British-Israeli trade has “doubled in a decade and is now worth £5 billion a year.”
The Prime Minister also pointed to the statistic that Israel is providing the NHS with “one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva.”
He praised Israel’s rapid growth as a start-up nation “with the second highest density of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world.”
Israel is the start-up nation – with the second highest density of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. As the inspirational President Peres has put it: Israel has gone from oranges to Apple. There are now more than 60 multinational companies with research and development facilities in Israel.
Israel’s technology is protecting British and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is providing Britain’s National Health Service with one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva and it has produced the world’s first commercially available upright walking technology which enabled a British paraplegic woman to walk the 2012 London Marathon. And together British and Israeli technical expertise can achieve so much more. From our scientists working on stem cell cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet to our hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world I hope this visit can lay the foundation for even more collaboration and even more business between our countries.
The Prime Mister spoke of how he has “led the fight” against anti-Semitism and extremism in Britain, as well as standing up to protect Jewish practices. He assured the Knesset that “On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK”.
I’ve stood up to protect Jewish practices too. The Jewish community has been an absolute exemplar in integrating into British life in every way but integration doesn’t mean that you have to give up things that you hold very dear in your religion. When people challenged kosher Shechita. I have defended it. I fought as a back-bench Member of Parliament against the last attempt to do something to change this. And there’s no way I’m allowing that to change now I’m Prime Minister. On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK.
Click here to read the Prime Minister’s full speech.