No simple peace solution, says former defence secretary Liam Fox


Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has told Tory supporters of Israel to be wary of simplistic solutions to the problems of the Middle East.

Speaking at the Conservative Friends of Israel reception at the party’s annual conference in Manchester, he said: “Some say that if only you unlocked the Israeli Palestinian issue that everything else would fall into place, that that was the one thing that was holding back the region and causing instability.

"Well, it looks to me there is a fair bit of instability in the region that has nothing whatsoever to do with that particular relationship. The idea that if you solve one part the rest will, domino like, fall into place, is utterly simplistic and in my view quite wrong.”

Dr Fox expressed disappointment at Parliament’s decision not to take action over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

He said: “It gives the impression that we in the international community would be willing to tolerate what is a war crime without necessarily doing anything about it. I’m afraid there is one lesson from history above all else, which is that appeasement never, never works.”

He also highlighted the shared British and Israeli values of liberty, tolerance, democracy, and free markets.

"These are the things that have made Israel a beacon in the Middle East,” he said.

Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub told the 400-strong audience that the British government should be praised for its role in getting the EU to designate the military wing of Hizbollah a terrorist organistation. “It is precisely one of the things that is putting us in the right direction,” he said.

Mr Taub commended the co-operation between Israel and the UK.

“Working to increase and hold fast the sanctions against Iran is precisely what will help make a safer Middle Eastern world possible. Working to deepen the trade relationship between us, doubling trade in the past 10 years has also been a great way to move things forward. Trade with the UK is going from strength to strength, up this year on last year by 7.9 per cent,” he said.

Also attending the event was Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and party chairman Andrew Feldman

Ms Villiers said she was “very proud to call myself a friend of Israel and very proud to call myself a Zionist as well”.

Mr Pickles was present at the Holocaust Educational Trust fringe event on Monday night, where he introduced Holocaust survivor Eva Clark, and spoke about his commitment to Holocaust education.

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