British government stance on Israel and Lebanon

#1
Is the stance of the British government - at odds with virtually every other nation with one glaring exception - really representative of Foreign Office opinion (and wider UK opinion), or is it simply the view of the Deranged Leader and his hand-puppet Beckett, as prompted by Dubya and Rupert Murdoch?

Is it really wise for the UK - with two proverbial testicles in two proverbial giant wringers in the Middle East - to supinely accept what most acknowlege is the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel?

How will this look in the bazaars of Afghanistan and southern Iraq? I am sure that Bliar would positively embrace further bloodshed - whether of civilians, terrorists or our troops in harm's way - as it provides more opportunities for him to meddle on the world stage (with the permission of the shaved chimp, of course). So is he deliberately stoking flames, or is he just stupid - or both?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/syria/story/0,,1825645,00.html

Downing St and Foreign Office at odds on Lebanon

Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill
Friday July 21, 2006
The Guardian

A rift has opened up between Downing Street and the Foreign Office over Israel's continued bombing of Lebanon and the high civilian death toll.
Tony Blair is publicly highly supportive of Israel and has declined to call for an immediate ceasefire. But some in the Foreign Office are now privately urging greater restraint by Israel amid concern that the scale of the bombardment is counter-productive, disproportionate, and undermining the political stability of the Lebanese government.

Margaret Beckett, who only became foreign secretary three months ago, is trying to straddle the divide between Downing Street and her department. But she refused to bow to intense Labour backbench pressure yesterday in the Commons either to call for an unconditional ceasefire or condemn the Israeli action as disproportionate.
The Tories for the first time condemned the Israeli actions as disproportionate.

Mrs Beckett limited herself to calling for restraint on all sides, and pointing out it would be "a pity" if Israel lost the "window of opportunity in which it can highlight to the international community the scale and nature of the danger which Israel and its people face". She added that "the government has no wish or desire for the events in Lebanon to continue for a second longer than is necessary".

Her remarks were taken to imply that the Israeli action, in response to the arrest of two Israeli soldiers and the Hizbullah rocket attacks, was necessary.

By contrast, her junior minister, Kim Howells - due to travel to the region today - was more openly critical of the Israelis, as well as Hizbullah, reflecting the mood among many British diplomats and most Labour MPs.

Mr Howells revealed the Foreign Office "had repeatedly urged Israel to act proportionately, to conform with international law and to avoid the appalling civilian deaths and suffering we are witnessing on our television screens".

He added that Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, had to be taken very seriously when she said this week that the attacks on both sides could be war crimes under international law.

No 10 has given no sign that it is shifting from its support of the US position of giving Israel time to reduce Hizbullah's military capacity.

In private, the Foreign Office, which has a reputation as being traditionally pro-Arabist, is sceptical about the Israeli strategy and its impact on the wider Middle East. It regards the Israeli bombardment as partly reflecting a need by the new Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to establish his credibility as successor to the hawkish Ariel Sharon.

Reports from British representatives in Lebanon challenge whether Israel, after its initial attack, is having much impact on Hizbullah. A British official in London warned there was a danger that the civilian deaths risked alienating Arab governments that until now had refrained from condemning Israel's attacks.

Fighting flared on both sides of the border yesterday, amid signs that Israel was preparing a ground invasion. At least two Israeli soldiers and two Hizbullah fighters were killed. Later two Israeli helicopters collided six miles from the border, injuring four Israeli servicemen.

There has been an apparent policy vacuum at the Foreign Office since the conflict began last week. A Foreign Office source said: "It is difficult for the British to do anything. We cannot work out the direction of travel until we hear from the UN security council and know the intent of the US."

In the Commons, many Labour MPs were furious that the the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, was prepared to be tougher in his warning to Israel than Mrs Beckett. "I think we can say that elements of the Israeli response are disproportionate, including attacks on Lebanese army units, the loss of civilian life and essential infrastructure and such enormous damage to the capacity of the Lebanese government, [which] does damage the Israeli cause in the long term," he told MPs.

The former international development secretary, Clare Short, described the British policy as "so unbalanced, morally wrong and counter-productive and disrespectful of international law".

The former Labour Foreign Office minister Chris Mullin asked Mrs Beckett if it was not "a tiny bit shameful that we can find nothing stronger than the word 'regret' to describe the slaughter and misery and mayhem that Israel has unleashed on a fragile country like Lebanon".

The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, said: "The prime minister's uncritical acceptance of the Bush administration is not only wrong but deeply damaging to Britain's international reputation."
 
#4
hansvonhealing said:
Wonder if Lord Levy still has Blairs ear...as well as a grip on his b@lls...........
Of course he does - and then there's Lord Sainsbury, Lord Goldsmith, Gerald Kaufman, the Pansy Mandelson et al, not to mention the various donors, including corporate supporters with largely Jewish boards. Oh, and don't forget who controls some of the Bliar-friendly media...
 
#5
Ive said it before and Ill say it again, the Isrealis are their own worst enemy.
 
#7
The Independent often does a front page like that, covered in facts/figures/charts/graphs. It's supposed to look deep and meaningful. In reality it's because it's such a low-circulation p1ssant rag that it can't afford to pay the agency fees for decent photos. On the day every other paper in the entire world had a picture of Saddam's statue being torn down, the Indy had a front page full of alleged 'facts' about the Iraq war and an article by Robert Fisk claiming the Americans would never take Baghdad, Republican Guard morale was high and they'd turn the city into a dreadful combination of Stalingrad and Hue City before surrendering. Didn't quite work like that (although admittedly it has turned into a sort of hot version of Belfast lately...).
 
#8
The Indy is also fond of very patronising front covers that "spell out the facts" in an insulting "texting" manner on single stories, although todays is quite good for a change.
 
#10
Good article in 'the Times'
The shocking silence from No 10
Mary Ann Sieghart

Blair’s tacit support for Israel’s grossly disproportionate actions sends the wrong message.

IT IS A CASE of the Blair that didn’t bark. Why hasn’t the Prime Minister publicly condemned the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza? Most British — and many Israeli — citizens are horrified when they see the devastation wreaked by Israeli bombings. There were 80 such raids in the early hours of yesterday alone. By late afternoon, some 327 civilians had died in Lebanon, compared with 34 Israelis. Go figure, as they say.
If this is a proportionate response, I’m a satsuma. Even the most hardline supporters of Israel, who justifiably point to the country’s right to defend itself against attacks from Hezbollah, must by now have come to realise that the “overkill” will have the opposite of its desired effect. For every member of Hezbollah who dies, another ten will be recruited to its cause. The world will be full of sympathy for the benighted residents of Lebanon who had thought, at last, that their country had secured itself a stable, peaceful democratic future. Half a million of them have been forced from their homes because two Israeli soldiers were taken hostage. That hardly looks like justice.

Mr Blair’s silence is sending a strong message to the world’s — and particularly Britain’s — Muslim community. By failing to condemn Israel’s overreaction, he is allying himself with those acts. What more powerful ammunition could there be for the radicalisers of Britain’s young Muslims? “Your Government doesn’t care about you and your fellow believers. You need to take action to defend them in this noble cause.”

The War on Terror is too easy a pretext for Israel to hide behind. It does not give free licence for a state to bombard the innocent citizens of another in the hope that a few terrorists might be killed in the process. Imagine if we had bombed Dublin in the same way, with more than 300 deaths in a week and half a million people displaced. That would surely have been seen as a war crime.

Mr Blair has moved too swiftly from defending Israel’s right to exist to supporting Israel right or wrong. It is bad for the Middle East and it is dangerous for Britain. He ought to know better.


more:- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1071-2279230,00.html
 
#11
hansvonhealing said:
Good article in 'the Times'
The shocking silence from No 10
Mary Ann Sieghart

....Mr Blair’s silence is sending a strong message to the world’s — and particularly Britain’s — Muslim community. By failing to condemn Israel’s overreaction, he is allying himself with those acts. What more powerful ammunition could there be for the radicalisers of Britain’s young Muslims? “Your Government doesn’t care about you and your fellow believers. You need to take action to defend them in this noble cause.” .....
This is not a war against Islam, radical elements in the UK (and eleswhere) may use it as an excuse and see what they want from it. If it was not this, there would be something else to be used as an excuse.

Rather like getting rid of certain clerics form the UK recently, this is not a move against Islam by the UK, but a security measure etc. If a radical element of a minority want to view it another way they will, regardless of the truths and justifications.
 
#12
hansvh wrote:

Mr Blair’s silence is sending a strong message to the world’s — and particularly Britain’s — Muslim community. By failing to condemn Israel’s overreaction, he is allying himself with those acts. What more powerful ammunition could there be for the radicalisers of Britain’s young Muslims? “Your Government doesn’t care about you and your fellow believers. You need to take action to defend them in this noble cause.”

So are we once more expected to allow our foreign policy to be influenced by the radicals in our midst? Call me old fashioned but isn't that tantamount to giving in to the threat of terror? Isn't that appeasement?
 
#13
Excellent post MrPVRd.

One thing that is p!ss!ng me off was last nights newscast concerning the logistics of getting rescue vessels into Beirut Port where it was curtly mentioned that ships of the RN had to negotiate with Israel for permission to enter.

Gone are the days when the World's Nations knew better than to bvgger about with Great Britain; we now have to negotiate with some tin-pot state that came from the actions of terrorists.
The population of that tinpot country appear to curry worldwide sympathy for the past terrible acts of the Holocaust their elders experienced during WW2 and then visit death and destruction on others who apparently don't like them today.

My good and longstanding Jewish mate, Rafi - a veteran of the 6 day war - had a conflab about this very matter at 0515z this morning during our train journey. He is a great supporter of Israel and always states his point. This morning his point was that he is glad to be here because he could not support the madness now being perpetrated by his Country.

You should have heard what George GallowayMP had to say about this on Talksport Radio [1089kHz] last Sunday night between 1900 and 2100z too. Amazed me there has been no assassination attempt on him by MOSSAD!
 
#14
I find it hard to believe that the RN would negotiate with israel for permission to enter. They should have informed the israelies when they would enter, and that they would shoot down any aircraft that came near during the rescue operation.

SC.
 
#15
SkiCarver said:
They should have informed the israelies when they would enter, and that they would shoot down any aircraft that came near during the rescue operation.
They should. But they didn't. Just like mukhabarat2003 said, they had to ask the IDF's permission to sail in!

BAD DRILLS! :(
 
#16
Is Israel simply trying to maintain the neighbouring populations in poverty so they cannot afford to gather any significant military force? Keeping their neighbours beaten down minimises the risk that they would be able to do anything other than the occasional rocket attack. By that logic, a prosperous, democratic Lebanon / Palestine is the last thing the Israelis want to see. Therefore, as Lebanon is pulling itself up, the Israelis must use whatever pretext they can to subdue them. In a purely tactical analysis, it is a reasonable conclusion to reach. On a human level, it is disgusting, and the Israelis should all be ashamed.

SC
 
#17
SkiCarver said:
Is Israel simply trying to maintain the neighbouring populations in poverty so they cannot afford to gather any significant military force? Keeping their neighbours beaten down minimises the risk that they would be able to do anything other than the occasional rocket attack. By that logic, a prosperous, democratic Lebanon / Palestine is the last thing the Israelis want to see. Therefore, as Lebanon is pulling itself up, the Israelis must use whatever pretext they can to subdue them. In a purely tactical analysis, it is a reasonable conclusion to reach. On a human level, it is disgusting, and the Israelis should all be ashamed
Bad analysis SkiCarver. It is generally accepted that a weak, failing state is the breeding ground of resentment and terrorism. A prosperous state is more likely to be interested in trade than war, it's people in accumulating the latest wide-screen plasma TV than an AK-47.

It is for this very reason that Israel's dismantling of Lebanon's infrastructure is counter-productive to its security needs in the long term.
 
#18
SkiCarver said:
Is Israel simply trying to maintain the neighbouring populations in poverty so they cannot afford to gather any significant military force? Keeping their neighbours beaten down minimises the risk that they would be able to do anything other than the occasional rocket attack. By that logic, a prosperous, democratic Lebanon / Palestine is the last thing the Israelis want to see. Therefore, as Lebanon is pulling itself up, the Israelis must use whatever pretext they can to subdue them. In a purely tactical analysis, it is a reasonable conclusion to reach. On a human level, it is disgusting, and the Israelis should all be ashamed.

SC
Put the tinfoil hat away. Lebanon is being attacked because it is being used by Israel's enemies to launch attacks. Israel is using gunboat diplomacy (as nothing else seems to work for them with Hisbollah, and the USA supprots their every move) to "encourage" Lebanon to prevent Hisbollah from operating from their territory. Not exactly feasible as Hisbollah is part of the Lebanese coalition govt.

The main problem as I see it is that this phase of the ongoing war was not expected: Israel wasn't expecting their soldiers to be kidnapped, and Hisbollah wasn't expecting the IDF's disproportionate response. Both sides have been reacting to the other, with no particular game plan, and are bumbling from one crisis to the next.

Remember that this Israeli govt was only recently voted in on a platform of peace-making and handover of land to the Palestinians. they've got to where they are now by being saddled with events for which they were unprepared.
 
#20
Themanwho said:
....The main problem as I see it is that this phase of the ongoing war was not expected: Israel wasn't expecting their soldiers to be kidnapped, and Hisbollah wasn't expecting the IDF's disproportionate response. .
You may be correct on the latter point but not the former. The IDF on the northern border regularly had warnings of kidnap attempts, this one was different as it was successfully executed. The last major one to be foiled was about 9 months ago.

Themanwho said:
....Remember that this Israeli govt was only recently voted in on a platform of peace-making and handover of land to the Palestinians.....
Well that will be delayed if not suspended whilst the government is tied up in current events and the army unable to commit to large scale force deployments in order to carry out settlement withdrawals.
 

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