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How the British Conservative Party Came Around to Supporting Israel

July 22 2015

Although Arthur Balfour and Winston Churchill, both Tories, famously supported Zionism, Britain’s Conservative party has a long history of chilly relations with the Jewish state; only in recent years has it become decidedly more pro-Israel than its rivals. Alan Mendoza traces the gradual change in British Conservatives’ attitudes:

[T]he explanation for the transformation of the Conservatives . . . can be linked to Prime Minister David Cameron’s own evolving views on foreign policy. . . . As early as 2008, when Russia went to war with Georgia, Cameron not only—presciently as it turned out—argued for strong opposition to Russia’s behavior but went as far as to visit Tbilisi in a show of solidarity. . . . When Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to massacre his own people in August 2013, it was once again Cameron who led calls for a military response, although in this case he was stymied by a reluctant House of Commons. His increased support for Israel can be seen as a corollary of this general assertiveness, particularly in the context of the fallout from the Arab Spring. . . .

Of course, there remain other voices in the Conservative party today. The party’s old “Arabist” wing remains alive and well, led by MPs such as Sir Nicholas Soames, Sir Alan Duncan, and Crispin Blunt. . . . Dissenting voices are still raised in Middle East debates and over Middle East policy. Yet the striking fact is how few these voices are when compared to the past, and how far removed they are from the position of the party’s leadership. . . .

All this does not amount to some illicit “neoconservative” seizure of the Conservative party, as [some journalists have] alleged. . . . Rather it reflects a more mature and reasoned viewpoint on the benefits of alliance with Israel. British MPs and leaders do not support Israel on account of activities of lobby groups or parochial voting concerns but because they have concluded it is in the national interest to do so.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Arthur Balfour, David Cameron, Tories, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill

 

In Pursuing Peace with Saudi Arabia, Israel Must Demand Reciprocity and Keep the Palestinian Question off the Table

Nov. 22 2017

The recent, unprecedented interview given by the IDF chief of staff to a major Arabic news outlet has fed the growing enthusiasm in Israel about the prospects of a peace treaty and mutual recognition between Jerusalem and Riyadh. Mordechai Kedar urges level heads and caution, and puts forward ten principles that should guide any negotiations. Most importantly, he argues that the two countries normalize relations before coming to any agreements about the Palestinians. To this he adds:

The most basic rule in dealing with the Saudis and their friends is that Israel must not feel that it has to pay anything for peace. . . . If the Saudis want to live in peace with us, we will stretch out our hands to offer them peace in return. But that is all they will get. Israel [has] been a state for 70 years without peace with Saudi Arabia and can continue being a state for another 7,000 years without it. Any desire for a quick peace (as expressed in the disastrous slogan “Peace Now”) will raise the price of that peace. . . .

[As part of any agreement], Israel will recognize the House of Saud’s rule in Mecca and Medina—even though the family does not originate from the Hejaz [where the holy cities are located] but from the Najd highland—in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel’s right to Jerusalem as its historic and eternal capital city. Israel will recognize Saudi Arabia as an Islamic state in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel as the Jewish state or a state belonging to the Jewish people. . . .

Israel will not allow incitement against Saudi Arabia in its media. In return, the Saudis will not allow anti-Israel incitement in Saudi media. . . .

It is important to keep the Americans and Europeans away from the negotiating table, since they will not be party to the agreement and will not have to suffer the results of its not being honored—and since their interests are not necessarily those of Israel, especially when it comes to the speed at which the negotiations move forward. The Americans want to cut a deal, even a bad deal, and if they are allowed into the negotiation rooms, they will pressure Israel to give in, mainly on the Palestinian issue.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia