By Ted Belman
This was the title of the opening panel today at the Herzlia Conference. The Moderator pointed out that Israel had excellent relations with Europe in the fifties and sixties. Britain, France and Israel invaded the Sinai in ’56. France was the chief supplier of planes and weapons right up to the ’67 War. He said things cooled after ’67. In ’73 all European countries refused America landing rights on their way to resupply Israel, with the exception of Portugal. Thus the relationship was already rocky.
Silvan Shalom, Vice-PM started off. He is an articulate and passionate advocate. He reversed the question and asked is Europe loosing Israel. He accused Europe of favouring the Palestinians and said, if you want more influence, you have to be more balanceD.
He went on to say that the US is failing to support moderate regimes. She demanded Israel permit Hamas to compete in the elections and now Hamas controls Gaza. She negotiated Res 1701 requiring an arms embargo on Hezbollah then permitted Hezbollah to amass 60,000 missiles. Then she allowed them to take over the government. He said democracy is nice but extremists shouldn’t be allowed to take over the government. He is obviously worried about Egypt. He ended by saying that the sanctions had been very effective and called for even more extreme sanctions.
The first European speaker was Uri Rosenthal, Min of FA, The Netherlands. He said Israel is not losing Europe now or in the future.
First the good news. We love you. We hate Israel bashing and antisemitism. We want to keep progess in the peace process separate from our embrace of Israel in all our other areas of accommodation. With that out of the way,he got down to brass tacks. “Israel must be more forthcoming” in the peace process. “Settlements are illegal”. “They are impediments to peace”. Israel should accept ’67 borders and divide Jerusalem. He obvioualy ignored Shovals demand for more balance.
The Michael Dugher, UK Shadow Defence Minister, also made nice but still demanded progress in the peace process. Though he left it at that it would have been nice if someone came down hard on the Palestinians. Not one word. He also reminded us that public opinion is turning against us. But he did mention that its opinion is largely based on the broadcast media which is not fair to Israel and not balanced. So what is the government doing to correct that situation? Nothing. He ended by saying that the government is fighting all forms of extremism including the EDL.
Keep in mind that European Parliament endorsed Goldstone Gaza report and some European states endorsed the UN Report on the Mavi Marmara. WHAT MORE IS THERE TO SAY.