Minister: Israel has lost support in UK

Israel has lost support from politicians and the British public because of its occupation of the Palestinian territories, according to Middle East Minister Alistair Burt.

He said Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians meant it had given up the “moral high ground” it had held when neighbouring states threatened to destroy the country.

The Foreign Office minister said that although British and American public opinion had changed towards Israel, it had not “led to a significant rise in antisemitism”.

Mr Burt made the comments in an interview with PoliticsHome journalist Paul Waugh for Parliament’s weekly magazine, The House.

He said: “Israel continues to have a very staunch set of supporters in Parliament because on the issue of Israel’s existence and right to exist, there is no compromise — that remains very clear.

“But I think that, over a 30-year period, the impact of the occupation on the mind of the public and MPs has been clear.”

Mr Burt said that while Israel remained a “David” in its confrontations with hostile neighbours and terrorist groups, it was seen as the “Goliath” in its dealings with the Palestinians.

He added that, in order for Israel “to retain the moral high ground which it had in terms of responding to those who threatened to destroy its state and eliminate it, its correct response mustn’t be undermined by how it is handling the difficult issues of occupation.

“And [Parliamentary] colleagues are well aware of some of the issues in relation to that – detention of children and the way in which some of the activities in the territories, settlements, go on.”

Mr Burt said he was optimistic about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to rejuvenate the peace process, despite “low expectations and trust” from both the Israelis and Palestinians.

Last updated: 7:45pm, July 4 2013