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UK elections: How the Conservative Party hoodwinked the British public

May 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Europe has fallen ill, and classism, racism and xenophobia are the symptoms of a dangerous right-wing sentiment that seems to be asserting itself in sinister ways. France’s La Pen, Austria’s BZO, Holland’s Party for Freedom (mass deportation of Immigrants, producer of Islamophobic film ‘fitna’) Italy’s Lega Nord (or Northern League) and Hungary’s Neo-Nazi party Jobbik are some examples of a rise in right-wing parties across Europe. The sickness has come to Britain, and this is demonstrated by the UK 2015 parliamentary election results.

The election has sent a clear message to the world: the british public have chosen the Conservative party, headed by David Cameron, to represent their interests, both domestic and foreign. An analysis of the party’s actions and affiliations, rather than their manifesto can conclude the following: foreign policy is impacted largely by a network of global aspirations in the middle east, spearheaded by US President Obama, and pro-Israel lobbying groups within the parliament in London. The left-wing outcry in Britain has been loud, though late: an anti-Conservative protest has already been set up on Facebook to take place in front of Conservative Campaign Headquarters in Central London, with over 8,500 people who are set to attend, and social media has blown up with anti-Conservative sentiment. However despite the protestations of many, the Conservatives, with 331 seats, have won an overall majority and have succeeded in becoming the next ruling party of Britain. The definite shift towards a right-wing government has consequences for the ever-shrinking middle class, those in the labour sector and the poor. But, another area of worry is foreign policy, and David Cameron and his party have made it clear that they will continue to support Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

David Cameron’s Defence of Israel

Cameron’s policy towards Israel parrots that of the United States: like Obama, he pledges to support Israel through the continuation of the free trade agreement, the export of arms into Israel, in addition to enhancing bilateral cultural exchange in various forms. On page 78 of the Conservative parties’ Manifesto, it reads: “We will…robustly defend the right of Israel to defend its security.” What does this seemingly innocuous statement actually mean? In the 2015 upcoming Israeli elections, Netanyahu pledges that “..there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”1

The territory he refers to is the West Bank. International references to a “Palestinian state” refers to the West Bank as its most likely home. His statement essentially nullifies a two-state solution, and confirms Israel’s aspirations to expand their territory westward.

Benjamin Netanyahu consistently uses the excuse of security to commit a plethora of human rights violations. Israel “protected” its security most recently in the internationally censured Operation Protective Edge. Human rights organisations all over the world have condemned Israel’s actions: the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated “485,000 people – twenty-eight per cent of the population of Gaza – were internally displaced.”2

Amnesty International wrote a fifty-page report on the operation, and concluded its findings with the following statement: “The fact that the Israeli military began carrying out aerial bombardment of inhabited homes in the first days of the conflict and that this tactic was used for the duration of the operation, as illustrated by the dates of the attacks in this report, seems to suggest that Israel’s political leadership endorsed this manner of conducting hostilities.”3

Despite international condemnation, Netanyahu has continued to use the language of security to justify his actions in Gaza, and during this time David Cameron has come out to offer his undiluted support of Israel’s actions. On the 21 July 2014, in a House of Commons statement, he said: “I have been clear throughout this crisis that Israel has the right to defend itself.”4

One month later, in the wake of collective and massive international denunciation of Israel’s actions, A BBC interviewer asked him if he thought Israel had breached international law. He replied: “I’m not an international lawyer so it’s up to international lawyers.”5

International lawyers, human rights lawyers, legal experts, UN representatives and country leaders have, with explicit references to the law, condemned Israel’s actions as breaking international law. David Cameron’s response is demonstrative of a refusal to hold Israel accountable for its actions, and confirms a pro-Israel bias that will prove to be an obstacle in any peace process.

Britain and Israel: A Close Friendship

Relations between Israel and Britain have not merely been based upon crisis response. The Conservative Friends of Israel, created in 1974 as a lobby group that represents the “twin interests of the Conservative party and the State of Israel…in parliament” have been instrumental in the victory of the Conservative party in the 2015 elections.6

According to journalist Peter Oborne, “…some 80 per cent of all Tory MPs are members, including most Cabinet ministers. No other lobbying organisation-and certainly not one that acts in the interests of a foreign country-carries as much weight at Westminster.”7

There have been claims that CFOI’s donations to the Conservative party “add up to well over £10m over the last eight years.”8

The lobby group has an influential voice in shaping foreign policy vis-a-vis the middle east, and specifically Palestine. A Channel 4 documentary on the Israel lobby in British parliament also alleges that Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire who has questionable business interests in an illegal West Bank settlement, donated £15,000 and £50,000 to David Cameron, and the Conservative Central Office respectively in 2009.9

In 2007, leading American scholars John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt wrote a scathing investigative book on the detrimental affects of the Israel lobby in influencing US foreign policy. One need only to look across the pond to Britain to see a mirroring of the lobby situation.

The Conservative party is ensconced in a marriage of power with Israel, and continued funding from the pro-Israel group has created a situation where British elites support the continuation of Israel’s brutal apartheid. The tragedy of Palestine has been a shameful stain on a Western system of governance, that puts values of morality, equality for all humans and the condemnation of ‘isms’ that seek to make certain groups of humans inferior as it elevates others, at the forefront of its policies. David Cameron’s continued support of Israel is at complete contravention with his own manifesto, that claims to support a two-state solution. As I have outlined above, Israel has no intention of allowing the existence of a Palestinian state that would, in Netanyahu’s own words, endanger the so-called security of Israel.

Cameron’s endorsement of Israel, as well as his party’s entrenchment in pro-Israel organisations has been kept away from headlines. The British public had a definite shift in opinion in 2014, when, through the aid of social media, the atrocities committed by Israel towards the Palestinians became available to everyone. Anti-Israel sentiment is growing in the UK and in light of this, the symbiotic relationship between Israel and the Conservative Party should have been made clear. The British public did not vote to forge a friendship with Israel, and they did not vote to support an apartheid system that seeks to dehumanise palestinians in order to make stealing their land more palatable to the rest of the world.

Narjas Zatat has a bachelor’s degree in History and a masters degree in Japanese Studies and International Relations. She has written articles for a number of Journals on politics, including Electronic Intifada.

End Notes

  1. Middle East Monitor, “Israeli Election Infograph“, visited 08/05/2015
  2. OCHAOPT, “Gaza Situation Report“, p. 3, visited 08/05/2015
  3. “Families under the rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes”, Amnesty International, (2014), p. 42
  4. Cameron, David, House of Commons, (21st July 2014), Column 1151, accessed 08/05/2015
  5. David Cameron, interviewed by Robin Brant, BBC, (4th August 2014), accessed 08/05/2015
  6. Conservative Friends of Israel, accessed 08/05/2015
  7. Oborne, Peter “The Cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel” , Telegraph (12th December 2012), accessed 08/05/2015
  8. Black, Ian “Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Torries, film claims“, The Guardian (16th November 2009), accessed 08/05/2015
  9. Ibid

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.