David Cameron gave some very forthright and encouraging answers yesterday when interviewed by Danny Finkelstein at the Conservative Friends of Israel's annual business lunch. It is one of the big events of the year, the 500 guests included William Hague and George Osborne, half the Conservative MPs and 30 PPCs.
The Party's proud "Zionist" tradition:
“If what you mean by Zionist, someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then yes I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about."
"There is something deep in our Party’s DNA that believes in Israel, the right of Israel to exist, the right of Israel to defend itself and that a deal should only happen if it means that Israel is really allowed to have peace within secure borders and real guarantees about its future."
Israel and Hamas just don't compare:
“The West has to understand that there isn’t an equivalence between a democratically elected Government of Israel, a state of Israel that is a democracy, that’s a member of the United Nations, that has a totally legitimate right to exist and defend itself – there is no equivalence between that and a group like Hamas. When it comes to Hamas we have to be very clear about the Quartet principles, until they recognise the state of Israel, until they put an end to violence and accept previous agreements, they really have to move toward those principles in a big way before they should get any Western money and Western support”
No justification for the boycott by the UCU (Trots, bunch of loons):
“What’s disturbing about it, is it is something that is happening here in the United Kingdom and it’s something that has absolutely no justification because Israel is a democratic country and these Trots as you put it are treating Israel as some sort of pariah state and that is completely wrong. So I have no hesitation in saying yes it may be a bunch of loons but actually what they are doing is profoundly wrong, profoundly damaging and also I think sometimes attacks on Israel can spill over into Antisemitism, to be frank about it. I think our Mayor in this great city of London, I think sometimes he is guilty of that.”
Elements of the Israeli operation in the Second Lebanon War were disproportionate:
“Israel was under attack, Israel had a right to respond and a right to take out Hizbullah as much as it could. It had a right to do those things but I think there is a duty to try and do so proportionately – it's incredibly difficult when you are facing that sort of situation but it did seem to me there were literally things that happened that were disproportionate and a mistake – some of the Lebanese army units were hit and the cluster bombs that were used. I think disproportionate was the right word – I know this was not universally popular. What we said was accurate and right but we have to set it in the very clear context that we support Israel and that Israel has a right to respond when it is under attack."