Meanwhile at home:
– Charities claim Scotland faces ‘humanitarian crisis’ caused by poverty (BBC News, March 5, 2014)
– Food poverty now bigger public health concern than diet – expert claims (Guardian, March 3, 2014)
– Food poverty shames this government (Guardian, Feb 25, 2014)
– Britain faces food poverty ‘national crisis’ because of Government welfare reforms, bishops warn (Independent, Feb 20, 2014)
In his first visit to Israel as PM, David Cameron condemns Iran for “despicable” terrorist ties and reveals Jewish ancestry
– David Cameron pledges ‘unbreakable’ support for Israel (Telegraph, March 12, 2014):
David Cameron has pledged his “unbreakable” support for Israel and condemned Iran for its “despicable” attempts to smuggle missiles to terrorists.
On Mr Cameron’s first visit as Prime Minister to the country, he revealed he has Jewish ancestry and pledged to his “rock solid” to the Israeli people.
On Wednesday afternoon, as Mr Cameron laid a wreath and rekindled the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, the country came under attack from a barrage of at least 25 rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, in the biggest launch in more than two years.
If his four-year delay in coming had raised eyebrows among his hosts, Mr Cameron made up for it by his giving unreserved support to Israel over its most pressing security concerns.
In a speech peppered with Hebrew to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, Mr Cameron vows to protect the customs of British Jews by ensuring the kosher slaughter of animals remains legal.
The practice, in which animals have their throats slit, has been condemned by leading vets, but Mr Cameron said: “On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK.”
He also vowed to keep hate preachers and anti-semites out of Britain, citing the refusal to grant entry to Britain to Dieudonne, the French comedian known for his “abhorent” inverted Nazi salute which was copied by the West Bromwich footballer Nicolas Anelka.
In comments that will delight Prime Minister Netenyahu, Mr Cameron condemned the British boycott movement, including trade unionists and academics, of being “amateur politicians”.
Crucially, he also declared Israel to be the Jews’ historic “homeland” – a status the Israelis have insisted the Palestinians recognise before any Palestinian state can be granted, but one the Foreign Office has shied away from.
The issue is a major sticking point in US-led peace talks which risk petering out.
Mr Netenyahu has accused European leaders of turning a blind eye to Iranian support for terrorism in the wake of recent nuclear talks, most recently when a ship carrying Iranian-supplied missiles was intercepted.
But Mr Cameron insisted he was not “starry-eyed” about the regime’s new president HassanRouhani, saying he understands how “narrow and vulnerable this land is” and the terror felt by Israeli civilians.
“A vulnerability that just this week has seen the interception of the Klos C ship – yet another despicable attempt by the Iranians to smuggle more long-range rockets into Gaza.
“A vulnerability that has too often seen nearby Palestinian schools being named in honour of suicide bombers.”
He added: “I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens.”
The Iranian nuclear programme presents a threat to the entire world, he added.
He said the root cause of terrorism in the Middle East is not Israel but the solely the “warped and barbaric ideology” of Islamist extremism that wants to establish a caliphate across the Middle East.
The United Nations is guilty of hypocrisy by ruling Israel has violated international law, the Prime Minister declared, saying last year the general assembly passed “three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put together.”
He wishes to see “an end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea.”
He added he would not “tell you how to run your peace process” but urged Israel to focus on the “great prize” of a deal.
Mr Cameron told the Knesset that his great-grandfather was Emile Levita, a Jewish man from Germany and a more distance relative was Elijah Levita, thought to be the writer of the first Yiddish novel.
He added he was initially confused by the Israel political system which produces fractured Coalition governments.
“But after nearly four years as Prime Minister of my own coalition all I can say is: ach-shav ani mevin,” he said – a phrase which means “Now I get it.”
The beginning of the session was marked by heckling by members of the Knesset towards Prime Minister Netenyahu, as Israel is split by plans to draft Orthodox Jews into the Army.
Mr Cameron joked he had “clearly come to the wrong place” if he wanted a “quiet afternoon” away from Prime Minister’s Questions, but saluted Israel’s healthy democracy.