David Cameron was guest of honour at today's Conservative Friends of Israel annual business lunch, attended by over 600 people, including about half of the Conservative parliamentary party, a number of peers and MEPs and the Israeli Ambassador in London, HE Ron Prosor.
Speaking after lunch at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge - the very place where Mr Cameron grabbed a few hours' sleep on general election night - the Prime Minister commended the work of the CFI, in particular the trips it arranges to Israel, which he described as "absolutely invaluable".
He said that being a friend of Israel meant three things:
- Solidarity: standing up for Israel
- Honesty: being frank with Israel
- Respect: learning from Israel
Mr Cameron said that Israel has every right to protect its people when they are in danger and that boycotts of Israeli goods would cause many to "go in the opposite direction" and actively buy products from the country.
He also reiterated his belief in a two-state solution, and asserted not only that settlement building was an obstacle to peace, but that security would not come through fighting a "grinding war of attrition". "Putting the past aside can be the right thing to do," he continued, referring to how he has to talk to the likes of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness (although it surely remains unthinkable that there should be talks involving Hamas until it fulfills the three set conditions of renouncing all violence, recognising Israel’s right to exist, and accepting all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements).
The Prime Minister also commended the measures being taken by the Israeli Government to ensure success for its "modern, dynamic, enterprise economy" and also expressed his delight at how much a sense of history and country matters to Israeli people: "We need more of that in the UK," he said.
He concluded by saying that his and the Conservative Party's friendship with Israel "thrived in opposition... and will be strengthened in government."
"You have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible," he asserted.