British Promise to Support Israel in Gaza Crisis U-Turns: Changes in Policy and Public Opinion

Britain’s Betrayal: Promises versus Reality in its Relationship with Israel

British Promise to Support Israel in Gaza Crisis U-Turns: Changes in Policy and Public Opinion

After the October 7 terrorist attack, the Israeli government declared war in Gaza. In response, the British government promised unqualified support to Israel. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak landed in Israel just a few days after the attack on a transport plane carrying weapons and military equipment for the IDF, declaring “unlimited support for Israel in the face of evil.” Foreign Minister James Calverley also expressed support for Israel’s right and duty to defend itself.

However, nearly six months later, British promises seem to have changed. The British government is now threatening to impose an arms embargo on Israel if it invades Rafah. The Foreign Office has been critical of Israel’s role in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and voted in favor of a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire without condemning Hamas for the attacks.

The shift in British position is attributed to a general erosion of support for Israel in the West. Factors contributing to this shift include Israel’s failure to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, continued military operations, high Palestinian casualties, and a lack of discussion about the aftermath of the conflict. Additionally, changes in leadership within the British Foreign Ministry have resulted in a more critical stance towards Israel under Prime Minister Cameron.

Some unique factors that have influenced British foreign policy towards Israel include public opinion, with large pro-Palestinian sentiments in Britain and criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza. A recent survey showed low support for Israeli military activity in Gaza and higher sympathy for Palestinians among the British public. This shift in public opinion has influenced foreign policy decisions towards Israel.

The British Foreign Office is now exploring whether Israel violated international law by committing war crimes during its operations against Hamas militants during Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009). If found guilty, this could lead to canceling arms export licenses to Israel and represent a significant departure from previous British support for Israeli defense efforts. The next steps in British-Israeli relations remain uncertain as both countries grapple with their stance on ongoing conflicts.

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