Cameron In Israel: 'Delegitimising Israel is abhorrent and together we will defeat it'
British Prime Minister David Cameron today made his first visit to Israel as prime minister, delivering an address to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
Speaking to a fractured crowd following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pushing through of three contentious bills, Cameron said that he "felt a connection with Israel" and said that Britain was integral in "securing a homeland for the Jewish people".
Members of the Knesset shouted and heckled Netanyahu as he delivered a speech ahead of Cameron, who initially looked amused at the circumstances as one member was escorted from the chamber. Marcus Dysch of the Jewish Chronicle tweeted: "Cameron is putting on a brave face but this heckling in Knesset is getting out of hand. Pretty embarrassing for Israel. Dave chuckling now."
Cameron opened his speech by speaking of his own 'limited' Jewish ancestry, and talked about various Holocaust survivors for whom he held a reception in 10 Downing Street last year. He said, "I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust" and said it held vital lessons for the cause of tackling racism and discrimination.
He acknowledged Israel's vulnerability, noting the 38 rockets fired from Gaza this year, and the "despicable" Iranian attempt to smuggle more weapons into the Hamas-controlled region.
"With me you have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable", said the British prime minister. "I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens."
"We have removed over 26,000 pieces of extremist material from the Internet", Cameron boasted. He noted that Britain "said no" to hate preacher Zakir Naik entering the UK, the same with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and called Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s neo-Nazi salute "despicable anti-Semitism".
"I am proud to be pursuing the strongest and deepest relationship between our two countries", Cameron claimed. He said "Britain opposes boycotts" of Israel.
"Whether it is trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis" or universities seeking to marginalise Israeli academics.
"Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong. It is abhorrent. and together we will defeat it."
But Cameron pivoted halfway through his speech, hailing John Kerry’s peace plan, and claiming that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas wanted peace, despite his continued funding of anti-Israel incitement.
On the wider challenges of the region, Cameron paid lip service to "the threat of a nuclear armed Iran and perhaps the greatest challenge of all, the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism".
"I share your deep skepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world – not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen".
The speech ended to rapturous applause, after Cameron detailed Britain's plans to tackle terrorism the world over. He called Islamism a perversion of Islam, stating: "Islamist extremism is a warped and barbaric ideology that tries to set our societies against each other by radicalising young Muslims all across the world... So we share your resolve to overcome this evil… We need a response that is tough intelligent and patient… Alongside a tough security response must be an intelligent political response.”
He concluded by telling Members of the Israeli Knesset, "We will be with you every step of the way".