David Cameron’s Foreign Office is undermining Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron

Well, that hasn’t taken long. Britain’s supposed firm and unambiguous support for Israel’s right to defend itself lasted around six weeks, before collapsing into the usual Foreign Office moral equivalence and implicit demonisation of Israel. So much for resolution and moral clarity.

We can date precisely when Britain decided that Israel’s “right to defend itself” after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust meant, in reality, that it had little right to actually do anything: 13 November. Which is the day on which David Cameron was appointed foreign secretary.

Lord Cameron was in Israel last week, and he seemed determined to make the Israelis appreciate that his title meant he could Lord it over them. While other official visitors have used their time in Israel to express their full support for their hosts – including Lord Cameron’s predecessor as foreign secretary, James Cleverly – our new face on the world stage had other ideas.

Speaking to the BBC, he said that in his talks with Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s president, Chaim Herzog, he “stressed over and over again that they must abide by international humanitarian law, that the number of casualties are too high and that they have to have that top of their mind.” By casualties, Lord Cameron was referring not to the 1200 Israelis murdered by Hamas – memories are short, and their murder by Hamas was all of 7 weeks ago, after all. No, the casualties to which he was referring are the Palestinians in Gaza.

It is indeed appalling that so many have been killed. But that is a consequence of Hamas’s policy of using civilians as human shields, and deliberately seeking their death so as to be able to lure the likes of Lord Cameron into blaming Israel. We have no accurate casualty figures since the only ones supplied have been from the Hamas-run health ministry. But it is safe to say it is in the high thousands.

The IDF has taken extraordinary measures to minimise civilian deaths, even informing residents in advance when their area is to be cleared of Hamas terrorists. But when Hamas bases itself in and around residential areas and buildings, civilian casualties are not only unavoidable, they are the specific intention of Hamas, which knows that when they are killed there will be an outcry. And right on cue, up pops Lord Cameron.

There is of course not a word of acknowledgment that a large proportion – perhaps the majority – of those killed have been Hamas terrorists. Instead, Lord Cameron intones the mantra of every anti-Israel NGO and attacks the Israelis for having the sheer gall of trying to destroy the organisation which has said it wants to repeat the October 7 massacre again and again.

Not that any of this is a surprise. In the 2006 Lebanon war, the then PM, Tony Blair, offered genuinely robust support to the Israelis against Hezbollah. It was not only the Left which attacked him for doing so. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, launched an attack on Israel for its supposedly disproportionate response. And in 2010, when he was the actual foreign secretary under David Cameron, he said that an example of how Britain would be a “solid but not slavish” ally of the US was “Israel.” Asked to elaborate, he went on: “The Lebanon war.”

Lord Cameron’s contribution to the demonisation of Israel, in other words, is entirely typical of his brand of Conservatism. When push comes to shove and Israel acts against terror, the response is, as Lord Cameron went on, “to have a continuous dialogue with them and keep making these points about humanitarian law, about civilian casualties.”

In other words – just suck it up, Israel.

Stephen Pollard is Editor-at-Large of The Jewish Chronicle

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