Israel’s military policy wonks want Liam Fox to speak to them
A Conservative doesn’t need to be a foreign agent in order to follow a policy of maintaining Israel’s military hegemony in the region. It is enough to be a Thatcherite. In that role Liam Fox was the campaign manager for the leadership campaign of Michael Howard in 2003. Howard’s success was greeted by Jewish Federations of North America with ‘A former hard-line government minister has become the first Jew ever to lead a major British political party.’ http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=51500 In the same article, Geoffrey Alderman was quoted as saying a non-Jewish leader had a freer hand in the Middle East (i.e. support for the government of Israel) He thought it of more benefit to Anglo-Jewry to have a Prime Minister like Margaret Thatcher with her large (and largely right-wing) Jewish constituency.
Fox’s involvement in Israeli politics was evident in 2009 when, as Shadow Defence Secretary he was invited to speak at Israel’s principal ‘security’ conference at Herzliya. http://www.herzliyaconference.org/eng/_Uploads/2165executivesummary09.pdf
This is the place to meet the movers and shakers in US/UK/Israel military circles. Both equipment and strategy are discussed, including Iran’s nuclear threat. Dr Fox spoke on ‘Can European-Israel relations be decoupled from the Palestinian issue?’ (Europe being seen as out of step with the US and Israel in the greater place it gives to Palestinians in foreign policy.)
Tzipi Livni was the key-note speaker at the Conference, 2-6 February 2009 just after Operation Cast Lead.
Trips made by Liam Fox and Adam Werrity to the Middle East are remarkable for their frequency and lack of obvious connection to departmental work. The listed ones for 2010 are June 7 and August 6 to Dubai, 2 December to Bahrain, 17 December Dubai, 2011, February 6 Tel Aviv (Herzliyah conference), April 14 Abu Dhabi, June 17 Dubai.
Dubai is a favourite resort for Israel’s security personnel and the place where, it is commonly assumed, Mossad assassinated Al-Mabhouh, leader of Hamas’ military wing in January 2010. The hit squad used fake passports, six of them British.
Liam Fox however is not a Likud stooge. He is closer to Tzipi Livni in his support for a 2-state solution. His speech to the Herzliya conference 2011 is below following a report of his speech in Haaretz.
Britain: Israel-Palestinian peace could help weaken Iran
In address to Herzliya Conference, Britain’s defense secretary warns that regional ties to Iran could adversely influence efficacy of sanctions.
Israel could bolster the international campaign to head off Iran’s nuclear programme by pursuing peace with the Palestinians, Britain said on Sunday.
The remarks by Defense Secretary Liam Fox ran counter to arguments by Israel, whose negotiations with the Palestinians stalled last year in a dispute over West Bank settlements that Palestine talks hinged on first curbing its Iranian arch-foe.
“The United Kingdom is pushing for stronger sanctions to influence Iran, but the importance of the Middle East peace process should not be overlooked,” Fox told the Herzliya Conference, an annual Israeli security forum.
“Progress towards a two-state solution — a secure and universally recognized Israel alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state — is important for defusing the malign political influence of Iran in the region.”
Britain and other world powers held unsuccessful talks in Istanbul last month with Iran, which denies seeking the bomb.
Calling the prospect of the Iranians’ sometimes secretive uranium enrichment project yielding warheads a “disaster”, Fox said: “We want a negotiated solution. But Iran needs to change its approach fundamentally if we are to achieve that outcome… We will not look away, and we will not back down.”
He added a warning that appeared aimed at Turkey, which has balked at sanctions and championed accommodation with Tehran. The United States has also scrutinized Gulf Arabs suspected of serving as intermediaries for Iranian foreign trade.
“For sanctions to work, regional powers and neighbors need to make sure they are not used by Iran to help it avoid or water down the impact of economic sanctions,” Fox said.
“Those who allow Iran to avoid the effect of sanctions are themselves an obstacle to the peaceful resolution of the Iran problem.”
Fox linked the malaise in Israeli-Palestinian engagement, and wider regional conflicts, to Britain’s national security.
“What happens here can have a direct impact on the national security of the United Kingdom — our prosperity and the safety of our citizens,” he said. “Threats originating in one part of the globe can become threats in all parts of the globe.”
Fox said Britain’s Conservative-led government acknowledged that Israel, whose own nuclear capabilities are undeclared, had a “unique set of security concerns”.
He offered praise for its military know-how that seemed to part with past British censure of Israeli crackdowns on the Palestinians. London had at times imposed limited arms embargoes against Israel in response.
“We enjoy a strong bilateral defense relationship with Israel. This is a relationship that, thankfully, is growing and maturing. It is a relationship that enables our operations, and in some cases, keeps British troops alive in Afghanistan,” he said.
Keynote speech by first UK Defence Secretary to visit in decades focuses on Iran, peace process and UK-Israel co-operation.
06 February 2011
Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox visited Israel and the Palestinian territories on 6-7 February. Below is the full text of the speech he gave at the inaugural session of the 11th Herzliya Conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen, since the formation of the new Coalition Government in the UK there has been an unprecedented amount of energy – and a renewed sense of urgency – in our engagement in this region.
As many of you know the British Foreign Secretary visited Israel recently.
During my years in Opposition I was regular visitor of Israel and to this conference.
This is why it is such a great pleasure to visit Israel and address the conference as Defence Secretary.
In fact, I am the first UK Defence Secretary to visit Israel in decades.
We look forward to continuing this re-invigorated strategic relationship at all levels.
Britain has long historical connections in the region and close relationships with many countries including Israel.
These are bonds of friendship, understanding and respect that have endured for many years – through good times and bad.
But even the best friendships need to be supported by mutual self-interest.
Fortunately, we have many over-lapping self-interests with Israel – in trade, in tackling terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and a successful Middle East Peace Process.
Israel is a key partner in the fight against international terrorism, alongside our allies and friends in the region, and we should assist each other to further develop intelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities.
Israel also shares the concerns of the United Kingdom, as do other countries in the region and the international community as a whole, with regard to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The United Kingdom is pushing for stronger sanctions to influence Iran, but the importance of the Middle East Peace Process should not be over-looked.
Progress towards the two state solution – a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a viable Palestinian state – is important in defusing the malign influence of Iran.
The United Kingdom believes this is fundamental to regional security.
What happens here can have a direct impact on the national security of the United Kingdom, our prosperity and the safety our citizens.
Today – with our economies linked, our peoples connected and our interests convergent – threats originating in one part of the globe, can become threats in all parts of the globe – and very quickly.
That is why, after our recent Strategic Defence and Security Review, we have maintained our place among the very top rank of military powers supported by the fourth largest defence budget in the world.
The outcome of our review also demonstrates that our commitment to security in the Middle East is undiminished.
Working closely with our major European allies and the United States we will maintain the military capability and political will required to deter regional aggression.
This is underpinned by the maintenance of a significant UK military presence in the region as a whole which contributes to reassurance and deterrence.
We maintain a sizeable maritime presence in the Gulf including a permanent task group of mine counter measure vessels to assist in the free movement of international shipping, up and down the Gulf.
This is a significant and enduring commitment which sends a very strong message of our continuing engagement, and the importance we attach to the region as whole.
We enjoy a strong bi-lateral defence relationship with Israel. This is a relationship that thankfully is growing and maturing.
It is a relationship that enables our operations and in some cases keeps British troops alive in Afghanistan.
And this is a relationship that is greatly valued in the UK and I want to thank you all very much for it.
Military to military engagement is important too.
Last summer the UK Vice Chief of Defence Staff visited Israel and our new Chief of the Defence Staff recently met with your Chief of Staff at NATO.
I hope it will be part of an enduring and structured dialogue between our two militaries.
On a practical level the UK was recently able to offer Israel assistance in combating the recent forest fires in the north of the country using specially fitted Royal Air Force helicopters flying from our base in Cyprus.
As I have set out, part of dealing with the threats and challenges in the region is through deterrence.
Deterrence seeks to avoid conflict.
It therefore has inherent legitimacy.
It is about setting boundaries for action and communicating the risks associated with crossing those boundaries.
But that does not mean it is cheap or easy.
It relies on maintaining the capabilities to act, and crucially, the political will to do so.
Some of the threats we face – support for terrorism and nuclear proliferation in particular – sit uncomfortably close together in Iran.
Iran has a long history rooted in thousands of years of Persian identity and has a role in the region, and indeed, as a responsible member of the international community.
But that role must be as a partner, not a problem.
I noted the recent comments by Meir Dagan, the recently retired head of Mossad, on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.
When it comes to timescales, I do not think it is prudent to assume we are at the most optimistic end of the spectrum.
We know from previous experience, not least from what happened in North Korea, that the international community can be caught out assuming that things are rosier than they actually are.
We should therefore be clear that it is entirely possible that Iran’s nuclear weapons programme could be more advanced, and act in accordance with the fact that time is not on our side.
So we need to resolve the concerns of the international community about Iran’s nuclear programme.
These are set out clearly in the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency and in the Resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Iran needs to engage seriously and constructively.
It did not do so at Istanbul.
For our part, we will continue to keep the door open to talks if Iran is prepared to negotiate seriously, as well as keeping up the pressure on Iran through sanctions.
Post-Istanbul, we shall be looking hard at how to strengthen the sanctions regime, both through tightening existing measure and looking at new ones.
For sanctions to work regional powers and neighbours need to make sure that they are not used by Iran to help it avoid or water down the impact of economic sanctions.
Those who allow Iran avoid the effects of sanctions are an obstacle to the peaceful resolution of the Iran problem.
It will be essential that all states play their part in this effort, in line with UN Security Council Resolutions.
We are serious about reaching an agreement that recognises Iran’s legitimate civil nuclear interests.
But, if Iran gets nuclear weapons it will be a disaster.
It could destroy hopes for peace in the Middle-East, for international stability and could very well mean the effective end of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as we know it.
It would lay the ground for a nuclear arms race in the region which would bring great instability, and ultimately diminish the security for the Iranian people themselves.
We want a negotiated solution – but Iran needs to change its approach fundamentally if we are to achieve that outcome.
An Iranian nuclear weapons capability will not be tolerated by the international community.
This means the international community needs to act as well as speak.
We will not look away and we will not back down.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this new era should be one of beneficial partnership between nations, not optional isolation.
Israel is a key partner for the United Kingdom with whom we share strategic challenges as I’ve set out.
And be in no doubt, the UK understands that Israel has a unique set of security concerns.
As the events of the last weeks in Tunisia and Egypt have shown, nothing is set in stone.
Events can move with great speed and our ability to control or influence them can be limited.
Change brings uncertainty, and yes it can bring new threats, but it also brings opportunities that should be seized.
In Egypt we must work to see that the legitimate demands of the people for the freedom to determine their own governance and decide their own destiny occurs in an orderly way that does not threaten regional stability.
We live in a dangerous and challenging world.
Successful nations will be those that look forwards and outwards – not backwards or inwards.
Who understand their history, but are not governed by it.
Who seek peace, but have the courage to confront those who would threaten them.
Who understand and seize the opportunities that history lays before them.
We face many common challenges.
We will all be stronger if we face them together with our friends.