Israeli Media Weighs Conservative, Labour Leaders as UK Election in Full Swing
As British citizens headed to the polls on Thursday for what appears to be the closest election in decades, Israeli media weighed in on which candidate would be best for the Jewish state.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband alarmed many Jews in Britain last year when he encouraged his party to vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state, and may have alienated some Jewish voters by what were perceived as “one-sided” remarks regarding last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Still, Israeli Walla! News pointed out that Miliband is a self-professed Zionist — or so he said during an address to the U.K.’s Jewish community — who opposes the boycott of Israeli goods. And, if he is elected, Britain would have its first declaredly Jewish prime minister (19th century prime minister Benjamin Disraeli left Judaism to become Anglican at age 12).
But, given Israel’s recent formation of a right-wing government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Conservative-led British House of Commons would certainly be “easier” for Jerusalem, Walla! News said, especially as a Labour government may have to bring in other parties to form a coalition such as the Scottish National Party, which has said it supports a political and economic boycott of Israel.
Additionally, the rising antisemitism in continental Europe has yet to reach the British isles in the same violent way, though British Prime Minister David Cameron recently addressed such concerns, pledging $14.7 million to provide security for the Jewish community.
But despite the discussion in Israeli media, British Journalist Daniella Peled told The Algemeiner that the election will have little effect on British-Israeli relations.
“Security interests will stay the same,” she said, and “considering the extremely right wing government that Israel has just formed, I think whether the next British government supports the boycott of settlement produce or recognition of Palestine is the least of their worries.”
“Israel-Palestine is not a major issue as far as Britain is concerned,” she said.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.K. Dr. Dror Zeigerman made similar statements to Walla! News: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is elected because foreign policy and Israel won’t be the top priorities, and as far as voting in the U.N. goes, the Netanyahu government won’t have it easy in either way.”
Recent polls showed incumbent Cameron’s Conservative Party leading Miliband’s Labour Party by just two points.