Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Meet Britain's new foreign minister?

There is concern in Jerusalem over the prospect that Liberal Democratic party leader Nick Clegg could become foreign minister in a new British government.
Privately, however, the view in Jerusalem is that it would be deeply problematic for Israel were Clegg’s party to unexpectedly prevail in the elections or, more realistically, fare well enough to deny Labor or the Conservatives an outright majority in the House of Commons. Clegg has repeatedly lambasted Israel for using “disproportionate” force in Operation Cast Lead, slammed the blockade of Gaza and, in an op-ed article last year, demanded that Britain and the EU halt arms sales to Israel.

According to reports in the British press on Tuesday, the Lib-Dems would demand at least six senior ministerial positions as its price for joining a coalition, including the post of foreign secretary, as well as the title of deputy prime minister for Clegg.

Clegg’s well-regarded performance over a series of three live TV debates in the run-up to polling day has been the surprise of the election campaign. It has helped lift the Lib-Dems above Brown’s troubled Labor in several opinion polls, to just a few percentage points behind Cameron’s leading Conservatives, prompting Clegg to assert that he is a genuine contender for the prime ministership. The nature of the British constituency system makes it extremely unlikely that the Lib-Dems could take power, but many polls in recent days have indicated that a hung parliament is likely, which would leave Clegg as the kingmaker, well-placed to demand a high price in return for joining a Conservative- or Labor-led coalition as junior partner.

Clegg’s criticisms of Israel, notably since Cast Lead, have been noted with dismay in Jerusalem, where eyebrows are also raised over his reported connections with certain Arab figures who hold to problematic ideologies. His stance on Iran in the TV debates has also prompted concern, since he was seen to underestimate the dangers posed by Teheran’s nuclear program – in contrast to both Brown and Cameron.

The current British foreign secretary, David Miliband, is not regarded by Jerusalem as the most supportive such figure in recent memory, but Israel, runs the view here, would be looking back fondly at Miliband as a font of pro-Israel empathy were Clegg to succeed him.

Clegg’s most trenchant public criticism of Israel came in an opinion piece he wrote for The Guardian in January 2009, at the height of Operation Cast Lead, headlined “We must stop arming Israel.”

“Israel’s approach is self-defeating,” he argued. “The overwhelming use of force, the unacceptable loss of civilian lives, is radicalizing moderate opinion among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world.”

Consequently, he urged Brown to “condemn unambiguously Israel’s tactics, just as he has rightly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks.” And he called both to “immediately suspend the proposed new [EU] cooperation agreement with Israel until things change in Gaza,” and “halt Britain’s arms exports to Israel, and persuade our EU counterparts to do the same.”

For the record, one of my business contacts in Britain is close with Conservative party leader David Cameron and tells me that Cameron is sincerely committed to Israel. In fact, if you go here, you will see that four years ago, Cameron was more realistic and sympathetic to Israel's plight than then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert!

Then again, we once thought Gordon Brown was committed to Israel too.

For the record, if I was voting, I would vote for the Conservatives, but I'm not convinced anyone is going to make Britain very pro-Israel these days.


At 4:13 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

With the growing Muslim population, the best that can be expected from future British governments is a sort of cold neutrality. There is was never real warmth between the two countries but there was a kind of cooperation between them. That won't resume if Nick Clegg should become the next UK foreign minister.

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best thing for Israel is the Cleggs of this world - IF it makes us wise up and realize what idiots we've been all along these last few decades.

Clegg for FM!

And goodbye, Britain!


At 4:24 PM, Blogger David Saffer said...

Neither the Tory nor Labour party would be able to offer up more than one of the senior positions, for any coalition government, and I'd be very surprised if the Liberals didnt have their beady eyes on Number 11 Downing Street

One of the reasons why the they are doing so well is not just because of Cleggs T.V appearances, but because of their long stance on economic issues - If that Party does as well as is expected I think the only position they will accept in a UK coalition government would be as Chancellor of the Exchequer and the only Liberal that would be suitable to that position is Vincent Cable.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

""Then again, we once thought Gordon Brown was committed to Israel too.

For the record, if I was voting, I would vote for the Conservatives, but I'm not convinced anyone is going to make Britain very pro-Israel these days."

They are all deeply committed in words to one extent or another. They clamor for our votes as though our votes in comparison can tip and election....which never can that occur.

I would vote for their conservative viewpoint but never by what they say as to their "love of Israel,security and commitment."

To one degree or another other things always trump commitment when it comes to Israel and upholding promises ie: loyalty.

As voters we need to teach them that!! We can help make them in our support and we can help destroy them with our mouths and by withholding our votes as protest. (small as they are)
This goes (as we can see in the left with Obama) to both sides of the isle. Selective blindness is not just a problem with the left. And to rationalize one is worse then the other as an excuse for silence is just plain wrong.


Post a Comment

<< Home