UK Prime Minister Defends Israel in Parliament

UK PM David Cameron fires back at anti-Israel MP's inaccurate description of 'Jewish State Law': Israel gives rights to all its people.

Ari Soffer ,

'Supporter of Israel': British PM David Cameron
'Supporter of Israel': British PM David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron fired back at critics of Israel's "Jewish State Law" in parliament Wednesday, noting that Israel is one of the only countries in the Middle East which actually grants equal rights to all its citizens.

Cameron was responding to a statement during Prime Minister's Questions by notoriously anti-Israel Labor MP Gerald Kaufman, who called upon the Conservative PM to "condemn" the bill - which recently passed a cabinet vote and will be put to a Knesset vote next week.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Kaufman claimed the bill would "remove national rights for all Israeli citizens who are not Jews" and "makes Hebrew the only national language," alleging that what he termed as "statutory, repressive removal of citizenship rights on the basis of religion" would "turn Israel into an apartheid state."

Clearly, however, Kaufman did not check his facts.

Although original proposals included making Hebrew the only official language of the State of Israel, relegating Arabic to the status of a "special language", the bill which actually passed a government vote on Sunday includes several key amendments by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Among those amendments are maintaining Arabic's status as an official language, and removing proposals to place greater weight on the "Jewish" character of the state as opposed to its "democratic" character - instead placing them on an equal footing in order to ensure minorities' rights are not undermined.

The British PM responded to Kaufman's ill-informed question in a more forthright fashion, however.

"What I'd say to the right honorable gentleman is this: one of the reasons I am such a strong supporter of Israel is that it is a country that has given rights and democracy to its people and it's very important that that continues.

"When you look across the region and you look at those indexes of freedom you see that Israel is one of the few countries that actually ticks the boxes in terms of freedom," he pointed out, while emphasizing that "it's very important it continues to do so."

Kaufman does not appear to be alone in criticizing the bill without actually being familiar with its contents.

European and other international papers have similarly misrepresented it, having clearly not researched the actual contents.

Britain's The Times even included a front page story headlined: Israel set to make Arabs ‘second-class citizens’ - prompting complaints from some media watchdogs.

Video of the exchange between the British PM and Kaufman can be seen below (16:39):