Is Cameron really a best friend?

June 04, 2015 13:06

Even before the Conservative election victory had been confirmed, Israeli government spokespersons were welcoming the likelihood of David Cameron retaining the keys to 10 Downing Street. Mr Netanyahu had apparently already congratulated Cameron on his "impressive victory". According to the JC, government apparatchiks in Jerusalem spoke of their "joy and relief" at the election outcome . One unnamed official was quoted as insisting Cameron had been "a fantastic supporter of Israel and [that] the ties between the two governments… have only improved under him."

It is certainly true that, on security matters, relations between London and Jerusalem have never been closer, and that, in 2014, trade relations between the two countries reached record levels. Remarkably, and in spite of the Gaza conflict, UK-Israel trade relations increased by 28 per cent in the first half of last year compared with the same period the year before. For all its huffing and puffing, the effect of the BDS movement in the UK is minuscule. So I can well understand the euphoria in Israel government circles.

I understand it. But I do not share it. And my reservations have been confirmed by the shocking incident that took place in Geneva on May 20 - just 13 days after Cameron's election victory.

On that day, the World Health Organisation was holding its "annual assembly." It did so as Israeli medical personnel were continuing to treat wounded Syrian refugees fleeing from a variety of murderous regimes to the safety of the Israel-controlled Golan Heights and as other Israeli medical personnel were returning from a mission to assist in the alleviation of unspeakable suffering in earthquake-hit Nepal .

On the WHO agenda was a motion condemning Israel for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and Druze. In a submission that would be funny if it were not so wicked, the Syrian delegation, unable to deny the reality of Israeli medical assistance to refugees in the Golan, argued that the Jewish state was deliberately treating wounded opponents of the Assad regime merely to ensure that they could "resume their subversive terrorist activities directed against the country's peaceful citizens and its infrastructure."

It will not surprise you to learn that the motion - the only one on the WHO's agenda singling out a named state for condemnation - was carried by 104 votes to four, with six abstentions. Among the states supporting the motion was the UK. And since the WHO is an agency of the United Nations, that vote could only have been cast with the approval of the UK's ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, who takes his orders from foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who owes his appointment to David Cameron. And since Mr Cameron has neither reprimanded Mr Hammond over this vote, nor distanced his government from it, we must conclude that this nasty, spiteful and gratuitously offensive vote had and has the PM's approval - just two weeks after an Israeli official called him "a fantastic supporter of Israel."

I never bought into the line that Cameron could ever be considered "a fantastic supporter of Israel." In July 2010, just a few weeks after becoming prime minister, Cameron used the opportunity of a visit to Turkey to condemn Israeli's attack on a so-called Gaza "aid" flotilla, and likened Gaza to a "prison camp." In May 2011, he bowed to pressure from a mésalliance of antisemitic lobbies and very publicly resigned as a patron of the Jewish National Fund, a move that the JC's present editor rightly described as the "equivalent of sticking two fingers up to the Jewish community of Britain."

Two years later, Cameron's government played a leading part in the EU decision to label goods emanating from Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Sundry members of David Cameron's Anglo-Jewish fan club have from time to time taken me aside to point out that his overriding duty is to protect British interests, not those of Israel. So it is. But please don't insult my intelligence by describing Cameron as "Israel's best friend."

June 04, 2015 13:06

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