Sunday, August 5, 2012

Israel losing international support: UK envoy to Tel Aviv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The British ambassador to Tel Aviv says international support for Israel among those in the political mainstream is eroding, driven by settlement expansion in the West Bank and continued restrictions on Gaza.

In an unusually forthright interview for Israel's Channel 10 news, Matthew Gould said he has detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Tel Aviv, The Guardian reported on its website.

There is "growing concern" in the UK over Israel’s hostility toward the Palestinians, Gould said.

"Support for Israel is starting to erode and that's not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category is those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift."

"The centre ground, the majority, the British public may not be expert, but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcements about new building in settlements, they read stories about what's going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza. The substance of what's going wrong is really what's driving this," Gould said.

But, he added, Britain was "by no means unique" in its growing concern about the Israeli violence. "Anyone who cares about Israel's standing in the world should be concerned about the erosion of popular support."

"Israelis might wake up in 10 years' time and find out that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced."

The shift was a result of the Israeli government policies, Gould said, suggesting that it could not be countered or obscured by hasbara. The Hebrew word for explanation refers to efforts by the Israeli government and its supporters to promote a pro-Israel agenda and challenge what it sees as negative media coverage.

Palestinian media reported on July 14 that the Tel Aviv regime has decided to build 100 new units in the illegal settlement of Modi’in Illit and another 130 units in the illegal settlement of Jabal Abu Ghuneim in the West Bank.

Earlier in June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the construction of 300 units in the illegal settlement of Beit El in the West Bank.

The international community regards all the Israeli settlements across the West Bank as illegal under international law.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The Israeli military also frequently attacks the Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.

In addition to air strikes and ground attacks, the Tel Aviv regime also denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, including the freedom of movement and the right to decent living, work, health and education.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

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