Socialist Worker

Gordon Brown says he is a friend of Israel

Issue No. 2111

Gordon Brown used an address to the Knesset – the Israeli parliament – earlier this week to make new threats against Iran and label those who oppose Israel as “antisemites”.

Brown was in Israel as part of a tour of the Middle East. He was the first British prime minister to address the Knesset.

He used his speech to declare his “lifelong affection” for Israel. Brown said, “For the whole of my life, I have counted myself as a friend of Israel.

“To those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror, we say the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security.

“To those who are enemies of progress we say we condemn antisemitism and persecution in all its forms.”

Brown called for Israel to “freeze” or scale back some settlements – but only under the condition that Palestinians “abandon violence”.

As Brown was meeting with representatives of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli troops swooped on the West Bank city of Nablus rounding up 27 people including Mona Mansour, a member of the Palestinian legislative council.

Refugees

During his visit, Brown made no mention of the millions of refugees who want to return to their original homes and refused to meet Hamas, the party that won the 2006 Palestinian general elections.

Instead Brown used the visit to make new threats against Iran.

He said, “To those who believe that threatening statements fall upon indifferent ears we say in one voice – it is totally abhorrent for the president of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map of the world.

“We stand ready to lead in taking firmer sanctions and will ask the whole international community to join us.

“Iran has a clear choice to make – suspend its nuclear weapons programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response, not just of one nation, but of all nations round the world.

“Our country will continue to lead, with the US and our European partners in our determination to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.”

Brown then praised the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas – that lost the 2006 elections – and offered £30 million in aid.

The bulk of this aid will go to train Palestinian police and fund new jails.

Protest against war outside the Labour Party conference, Saturday 20 September. Assemble 12.30pm Manchester. Called by Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition and CND


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Tue 22 Jul 2008, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2111
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