British PM Cameron: Gaza is a prison camp

Posted: July 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

In a visit to Turkey, newly appointed British Prime Minister said that the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla was “‘completely unacceptable”

This is from the Telegraph’s report:

Today Mr Cameron said: ”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.”

And he added: ”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.”

PM David Cameron’s senior coalition partner, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, referred in the past to the Israeli siege on Gaza as “a living nightmare” for more than a million Palestinians.

I think we should pay attention to these declarations. Israel has lost the battle in the UK’s public opinion long ago, and now it seems that the new British government is moving toward a more critical approach of Jerusalem as well. This is happening at a time when Washington is taking Israel’s side both in regards to Gaza and to the talks with President Abbas. PM Benjamin Netanyahu was able to contain the pressure from president Obama by using the political battle in the United States and making Israel a major issue for the Republicans, but elsewhere his government is getting more isolated by the day.

In the months to come, it will be interesting to see whether the British could lead Europe into playing a larger role in the region, and what effect this would have on the US policy.

Flotilla: VP Biden justifies Israel (but gets his facts wrong), UK Prime Minister condemns raid

Posted: June 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Vice President Joe Biden supported today (Wednesday) Israel’s claim that it acted within its rights when it attacked the Gaza-bound flotilla. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose, Bidern said that “You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not, but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”

This is from the transcript published in Politico:

…And so now the question is what do we do? Well, we had made it clear, the President of the United States has spoken three times, yesterday with Bibi, or the day before yesterday, he’s spoken once yesterday with a guy that I have spent a fair amount of time with, with Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey; the Turks, we passed a resolution in the U.N. saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened. It looks like things are –

Charlie Rose: International investigation –

Joe Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation, just like the investigation run on the sunken sub in — off the coast of Korea. That was run by South Korea, but the international community joined in that investigation. And so that is very possible here as well. I might add by the way for all those who say the Israelis, you know, you know, you can’t trust them, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled today that every one of the people on those ships had to be released immediately, immediately.

Even though the VP repeated “immediately” twice, he actually got it wrong. Supreme Court didn’t rule on the issue, and the government even argued before the court it had the right to hold the passengers, only to release them a short while after under fierce Turkish pressure.

Meanwhile, the UK’s new Prime Minister, David Cameron, has a very different view, calling the raid “totally unacceptable” and adding that:

“Friends of Israel – and I count myself a friend of Israel – should be saying to the Israelis that the blockade actually strengthens Hamas’s grip on the economy and on Gaza, and it’s in their own interests to lift it and allow these vital supplies to get through.”


Check out my op-ed on the flotilla affair, from the Israeli point of view, in the Jewish Daily Forward:

…Amid feelings of sorrow and anger, Israelis should be asking one simple question: What were the soldiers doing aboard an unarmed private vessel, carrying hundreds of civilians — hostile and violent as they may have been — dozens of miles from Israel’s territorial waters?

Full text here.