UK must keep up pressure on Iran over terror links, warns Board of Deputies leader


Supporters of Israel have given a lukewarm response to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s comments on Iran’s relationship with Israel.

Reopening the British embassy in Tehran at the weekend , Mr Hammond suggested President Hassan Rouhani had a more “nuanced” approach to dealing with Israel than his predecessors.

He explained the remark by saying it was important to “distinguish between revolutionary sloganising” when Iranians chant “death to Israel” and what the country’s government “actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy”.

Sir Eric Pickles, the Conservative Friends of Israel chairman who sat in the cabinet with Mr Hammond until May, said it was right for the Foreign Secretary to say Iran would be judged by its actions.

But he said ending the sense that Iran was a threat would only come after a series of “constructive actions”, including the end of Iranian weapons transfers and financial assistance to terror groups.

Sir Eric explained: “Iran must stop encouraging and promoting violence against Israel. Iran must stop its current attempts to establish a military presence in southern Syria along the border with Israel.

“It would be also sensible for the Foreign Secretary to persuade Ayatollah Khamenei to stop his repeat call for the destruction of Israel. Chanting ‘death to Israel’ should never be dismissed as ‘revolutionary sloganising’. It represents a deep threat to Britain’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush highlighted Tehran’s funding of Hizbollah and the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural centre in Argentina and 2012 terror attack on a tourist bus in Bulgaria and encouraged Mr Hammond to “keep up the pressure on Iran over this appalling record and to continue to highlight the abuses of the regime”.

On the nuclear deal , Mr Arkush added: “The Board is fearful that western democracies will pay a very heavy price for their appeasement to a rogue dictatorship and will come to regret bitterly the enthusiasm to reach an accommodation with an utterly cruel and untrustworthy regime.”

Mr Hammond became only the third British minister to visit Tehran since 1979 when he travelled to open the embassy, which had been shut since it was attacked four years ago.

The rapprochement between the countries has continued apace since the signing of the nuclear deal in July.

Mr Hammond praised the “power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges” and predicted a future relationship built on “confidence and trust between two great nations”.

He said Iran must behave in a way “not only towards Israel but towards other players in the region that slowly rebuilds their sense that Iran is not a threat to them”.

The easing of economic sanctions on Iran as a result of the deal saw Mr Hammond take a delegation of British business leaders with him on the two-day trip. Two Iranian banks are expected to start operating in Britain following the visit.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive