Gaza is a "prison camp", says Cameron
By Tim Montgomerie
In a significant increase in the rhetorical temperature, David Cameron has renewed his condemnation of Israel for blockading Gaza and compared the situation in the Hamas-controlled territory to a "prison camp":
“Turkey's relationships in the [Middle East] region, both with Israel and with the Arab world, are of incalculable value. No other country has the same potential to build understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I know that Gaza has led to real strains in Turkey's relationship with Israel. But Turkey is a friend of Israel. And I urge Turkey, and Israel, not to give up on that friendship. Let me be clear. The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told PM Netanyahu, we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. But as, hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it's Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.“
Mr Cameron made the remarks in a speech in Turkey, where he enthusiastically backed the country's hope to join the EU.
The Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government will approve of Mr Cameron's tone on Israel but the government in Jerusalem will take a very dim view of the intervention. The use of such an emotive term and the lack of any balancing condemnation of the Hamas regime that terrorises Gaza will also disappoint Conservative supporters of Israel.
10am: Images from Gaza's new shopping centre:
5pm Statement from Stuart Polak, Director of Conservative Friends of Israel:
“In calling Gaza a ‘prison camp’ the Prime Minister has failed to address Hamas’ role in creating the Gaza we see today. The organisation’s obsessive hatred for Israel and continued terrorist tactics have long overridden any concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people. The Prime Minister should be calling on Turkey to play a positive role in tackling Hamas; to ensure that Hamas accepts the Quartet Principles and to insist on the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. The Prime Minister’s words certainly did not reflect the wider context and I’m sure this will be urgently addressed by the Government. This oversight is regrettable as he has never pulled any punches where Hamas are concerned. Describing Hamas as a theocracy who target innocent life, he has always been very clear on what sort of organization they are and that there should be no moral equivalence with Israel.”