Cameron: Israel Right to Defend Itself

Just a week before elections, UK PM David Cameron rejects comparisons between Israeli self-defense, Palestinian 'indiscriminate attacks'.

Ari Soffer ,

David Cameron
David Cameron
Flash 90

UK Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron has come out strongly in support of Israel, saying he feels it is "important to speak out" and defend the Jewish state's defensive actions, particularly during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Chronicle, which will be published in full on Thursday - just one week before British general elections - Cameron reportedly emphasized his position that there could be no comparison between Israel's actions during the conflict and those of its terrorist adversaries.

"What I’ve seen is the attacks that take place on Israel and the indiscriminate nature of them," he said of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.

"As PM, putting yourself in the shoes of the Israeli people, who want peace but have to put up with these indiscriminate attacks - that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself."

"I feel very strongly that this equivalence that sometimes people try to draw when these attacks take place is so completely wrong and unfair," he added. "Because Israel is trying defend against indiscriminate attacks, while trying to stop the attackers – and there’s such a difference between that and the nature of the indiscriminate attacks that Israel receives.

"I feel that very clearly. I’ve seen it very clearly as Prime Minister and I think it’s important to speak out about it.

"Obviously we regret the loss of life wherever it takes place, but I do think there’s an important difference – as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it: Israel uses its weapons to defend its people and Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons."

It is not the first time the British PM has spoken up for Israel.

Following the summer war with Gazan terrorists, Cameron repeatedly condemned the indiscriminate rocket fire by Islamists against Israeli civilians as "barbaric". During the conflict as well, his government made similar statements supporting Israel's "right to self-defense."

Cameron has described himself as "a staunch supporter of Israel", and last year became only the second British prime minister to address the Israeli Knesset. 

In a parliamentary debate in November, he shot down a challenge by an anti-Israel Labor MP to condemn Israel, saying the State of Israel "ticks all the boxes for freedom."

A recent poll shows that stance has earned Cameron's Conservative party overwhelming support from British Jews - with 69% saying they would be voting for the Conservatives in the May 7 elections.

In contrast, despite its leader Ed Miliband himself being Jewish, the left-wing Labor Party has seen a mass exodus of Jewish support due to its increasingly aggressive anti-Israel stance, with just 22% of British Jews saying they would be voting for Labor.

Cameron's interview is likely aimed at further bolstering support for the Conservatives in the few key constituencies where Britain's Jewish community are concentrated, some of which show Labor and Conservatives neck-and-neck, or Labor with a narrow lead.

However, making such openly pro-Israel statements so close to an election is still extremely significant, given the negative reception it will be met with among many within the UK's far larger Muslim community.



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