Here’s why Cameron won’t criticise Israel: nearly £8bn a year in arms sales


It’s a business matter – the business of bloodshed.

Despite the high-profile resignation of Baroness Warsi, despite growing unrest among his own backbenchers, despite public criticism over his government’s failure to support a UN inquiry into possible human rights breaches in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, David Cameron remains resolute in his refusal to speak up against the Israeli government’s use of overwhelmingly superior firepower against Palestinian civilians who have been caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas terrorists.

His uncharacteristic silence has made him a laughing-stock in some quarters. The blogger Tom Pride, for example, took great pleasure in pointing out useful things that Cameron hasn’t been saying: “In a dramatic turnaround, Mr Cameron shocked political pundits after he blasted the Israeli Army for massacring civilians in Gaza by not quite saying something not very nice about it.

“And in a devastating speech which he was very nearly on the point of giving today, Cameron bordered on almost telling Israeli premier Benjamin Natanjahu to stop his naughty behaviour at once or face being told to shake hands and make up with the Palestinians.

“Mr Cameron also blasted the Israelis by getting pretty close to claiming there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that innocent civilians in Gaza – including children – had been targeted as a form of collective punishment,  which he almost pointed out was not very nice and was even actually rather quite naughty if you think about it.”

The reason for his reticence? The Israelis are using British weapons, bought under contracts that are worth almost £8 billion every year. Cameron doesn’t want to put that kind of income at risk!

The latest development is that the Liberal Democrats have called for the government to suspend the export licences under which these weapons are shipped to Israel. It seems the intention is to put out a clear message that Britain will not tolerate its weapons being used against innocents (and we can debate the possible levels of hypocrisy in that later).

Downing Street has stated that the licences are already under review, with no new licences issued since the Israeli government opened up hostilities last month.

“Suspending export licences is not a decision we take lightly and it is right that we examine the facts fully. This is the approach being taken by the vast majority of countries,” the spokesman said, according to the BBC.

It seems more likely that nothing will be done and the government is hoping this affair will blow itself out before it can affect the balance of import/export payments.

Cameron has been attacked by many – including commenters on this blog – for the apparent failure of his moral compass where money is concerned, and there is evidence that criticising his policy is a bad career move for fellow Conservative Party members.

It seems only people outside the government are allowed to speak their mind. Look at Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General who was ousted, possibly for criticising plans to limit Legal Aid to those who least deserve it. According to the BBC, he has been heard questioning whether Israel’s actions had been “reasonable, necessary and proportionate”.

Outside the Westminster bubble, high-profile names have been far less reserved about expressing an opinion. Remember when Roger Waters (formerly of Pink Floyd) compared the modern Israeli state with Nazi Germany last year? He was branded as an antisemite at the time.

But take a look at his words now, about Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people on the Gaza Strip: “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Geermany are so crushingly obvious… The Holocaust was brutal and disgusting beyond our imagination. We must never forget it. We must always remain vigilant. We must never stand by silent and indifferent to the sufferings of others, whatever their race, colour, ethnic background or religion. All human beings deserve the right to live equally under the law.

“I have nothing against Jews or Israelis, and I am not antisemitic. I deplore the policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories and Gaza. They are immoral, inhuman and illegal. I will continue my non-violent protests as long as the government of Israel continues with these policies.”

When did we last have a Prime Minister with such principles?

Not since 2010, for sure.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. ellie August 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Ssshhh the american b****es will ask why they give us 3 Billion plus a year when have 8 billion to spend every year in UK #Netanyahu 

  2. Nick August 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    it’s the likes of Cameron that are the main problem in the world always in support of despots like themselves whilst making money

    or to put this another way all the time the likes of Cameron and co are around the middle east will always be violent it takes one to know one after all

  3. JC August 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    The word ‘terrorist’ has become meaningless now, especially when it’s used by right wing-B52 liberals who throw it around like confetti when it suits them, but never apply it to themselves.

  4. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) August 6, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    You state that Palestinian civilians have been caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas terrorists. I feel the need to point out that Hamas is a democratically elected political party and that Palestinian civilians bear some responsibility for making that ill-fated choice.

    • Mike Sivier August 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm - Reply

      In the same way that UK civilians bear some responsibility for the predatory actions of the Coalition government here?
      A lot of people were misled by the Tory and Liberal Democrat election campaigns here. I have no idea what Hamas promised.

  5. Mark Potter-Irwin August 6, 2014 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    And for my Scottish Independence voting chums/friends to share……”This looks like fun…lets vote NO and play with the bIg bOy’sss…look what they can do……!…And so it goes…………………..the rest of ye who care,.please take the time to Like and Share this information so that some people start to doubt the veracity of our Glorious Leader..the soon to be ennobled ex PM…thanks to Boris…..OMG Borris as PM OMG ……of course this is bound to happen……celebs rule…don’t y’ know.

  6. AC August 7, 2014 at 1:17 am - Reply

    You might have seen all of this before Mike but it’s probably still relevant to put here now.

    1) Back in 2007 he is on record in Israel’s own Haaretz –
    ” Tory leader calls himself ‘Zionist’ ” – “U.K. Conservative party leader David Cameron: Support of Israel is in DNA of party members” –

    2) Back in 2009 the shadow cabinet (at the time being mostly made up of the current Conservative cabinet) is mentioned in a Guardian article reporting on an episode of Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ called ‘Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby’ – “Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims” – “50% of MPs in the shadow cabinet are Conservative Friends of Israel members, according to Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ –

  7. hstorm August 7, 2014 at 6:14 am - Reply

    I’m not sure that is the reason particularly – most of the goods in question are not actual arms but things like surveillance and communications equipment. It’s not like Cameron is slow to condemn, say, Vladimir Putin, but Britain is still selling arms to Russia even now.

    I just think Cameron’s afraid of an international media backlash.

    • Mike Sivier August 7, 2014 at 8:19 am - Reply

      He seems to be suffering something of a backlash anyway.

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