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Britain’s Betrayal: Promises versus Reality in its Relationship with Israel


Mar 27, 2024

When the Israeli government went to war in Gaza after the October 7 terrorist attack, the British government promised it unqualified support. British Prime Minister Rishi Sonak landed in Israel just a few days after the attack on a transport plane carrying weapons and military equipment for the IDF, declaring “unlimited support for Israel in the face of evil.” British Foreign Minister at the time, James Calverley, expressed support for Israel’s right and duty to defend itself. However, nearly six months later, British promises seem to have changed.

Britain is now threatening to impose an arms embargo on Israel if it invades Rafah. The British government, particularly the Foreign Office, has been critical of Israel’s role in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The British ambassador to the UN voted in favor of a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, without condemning Hamas for the October 7 attacks.

The change in British position is attributed to a general erosion of support for Israel in the West. Factors contributing to this shift include Israel’s failure to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, continued military operations, high Palestinian casualties, and a lack of discussion about the aftermath of the conflict. Additionally, a change in leadership within the British Foreign Ministry has resulted in a more critical stance towards Israel under Prime Minister Cameron.

Some unique factors in the British case include public opinion, with large pro-Palestinian sentiments in the UK and criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza. A recent survey showed low support for Israeli military activity in Gaza and a higher sympathy for Palestinians among the British public. This shift in public opinion has influenced British foreign policy towards Israel, as seen in recent Security Council votes.

The British Foreign Office is now exploring the possibility of Israel violating international law in Gaza, which could lead to a cancellation of arms export licenses to Israel. This marks a significant departure from previous British support for Israel, reflecting a new and tougher approach towards the conflict in the region. The next steps in British-Israeli relations remain uncertain, as the British government grapples with its stance on the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

By editor

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