What Would a ‘Brexit’ Mean for UK-Israel Relations?
Britain’s upcoming referendum on its membership in the European Union is the center of tremendous speculation. Across Europe, the result will have great implications since Britain is the second largest economy in the bloc. Even for the rest of the world, it will be a pivotal moment.
Amidst all the people and groups taking positions on the issue, one particular voice stands out. A group called Regavim, a pro-israel NGO, supports leaving the EU — and believes this will also strengthen the relationship between Britain and Israel.
In their view, the European Union has taken many controversial actions towards the Israel/Palestine dispute, particularly in the West Bank. Labeling measures have been used on “settlement products,” to warn consumers and indicate their origins. The EU also funds groups that support Palestinian terror, makes one-sided statements only condemning Israel, and is generally seen as being ‘pro-Palestinian’ despite the Palestinians’ use of terrorism.
The Palestinian Authority also receives lavish funding from the EU, with much of it being misspent — or spent on terrorism. From 1994 to 2009, the figure totaled €4.26 billion, excluding donations from individual EU member states. Mahmoud Abbas himself admitted that PA funding has been spent on paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
The EU has also lavishly funded NGOs with a history of defaming Israel, vilifying Israeli troops, and attacking the actions of the state.
On the other hand, Britain has perhaps been the most pro-Israel state within the European Union in recent years. Prime Minister David Cameron has often delivered powerful words of praise towards Israel, and, by his actions, has shown himself a good friend of the Jewish state. Britain constantly supports Israel instead of the terrorists, and plays a constructive role in resolving the dispute.
Britain — separated from the EU — could use its strong global presence, and bountiful economy, to offer a stronger hand of support to Israel, and forge an even greater alliance with it. Some argue that if Britain stays in the Union, it would be able to change the course of the EU, and reform it. But, with limited power to veto certain rules, and having an increasingly smaller voice within the bloc, this is often an over-exaggerated claim.
So yes, a Brexit can lead the UK to reinforce its alliance with Israel, and forge a bright new future that is better for both Israel and the UK.