Blair backs Israel
THERE can be no doubting whose side Tony Blair and the Government are on in the escalating crisis in the Middle East. Unequivocally, it is Israel.The conflict is viewed in London, and also Washington, as part of the worldwide war against terror.
THERE can be no doubting whose side Tony Blair and the Government are on in the escalating crisis in the Middle East. Unequivocally, it is Israel.
The conflict is viewed in London, and also Washington, as part of the worldwide war against terror. Reporting to the Commons on Tuesday on the outcome of the G8 summit in St Petersburg, the Prime Minister told MPs: “We should be in no doubt about the immediate cause of this situation. It started with the kidnap of an Israeli soldier in Gaza and then action by Israel targeting Hamas on the Palestinian side.
“Then, without provocation, Hezbollah crossed the blue line established by United Nations resolutions, killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two more. Israel then again retaliated with air strikes against targets in Beirut. This situation therefore began with acts of extremism by militant groups that were . . . without any justification and were, of course, designed to provoke the very response that followed.”
He added: “We can imagine how it would be in our own democracy if we were faced with such a situation - if our own citizens were being killed through hostile action. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are now in shelter, having been evacuated from their homes, and their soldiers have been killed in such a brutal way.
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“This began with an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah on Israel, and I do not think that one can really be surprised at the response.”
The Conservatives support the position. David Cameron said the crisis would only cease with “the release of Israeli hostages, the end of rocket attacks on Israel and a future for Lebanon without armed militias”.
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But not the Liberal Democrats. On Wednesday, Sir Menzies Campbell accused the Prime Minister of colluding with President Bush “to allow Israel a further period for military action. Is that why the UK is not calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire?”
An exasperated Mr Blair said the Lib Dem leader did “not understand that Hezbollah fired somewhere in the region of 1,600 rockets into northern Israel. I agree that what is happening in Lebanon is tragic and terrible, not least for the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Government. If this is to stop, it has to stop by undoing how it started, and it started with the kidnap of Israeli soldiers and the bombardment of northern Israel. If we want this to stop, that has to stop.
“It is important that Israel's response is proportionate and does its best to minimise civilian casualties, but it would stop now if the soldiers who were kidnapped - wrongly, when Hezbollah crossed the United Nations blue line - were released. It would stop if the rockets stopped coming into Haifa, deliberately to kill innocent civilians.”
I suspect the overwhelming majority of Britons support Israel and side with Blair and not Sir Ming.
Perhaps I'm being simplistic, but if Lebanon had taken measures to rid Hezbollah from within its borders, this is a conflict which would never have started.
Why has it taken until now for Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to say Hezbollah had created a “state within a state” and must be disarmed? It's tragic he had to wait for Israeli retribution before speaking up.
DOWN THE PAN WITH THE CAMERONS
THE delicate subject of how many times you flush the toilet does not arise in the otherwise environmentally conscious David Cameron household. He confided this week that with three young children, including one who is being potty trained, it would be inadvisable not to flush after every visit to the loo.
However Mr Cameron, who has just received planning permission for a wind turbine on his roof, is keen on recycling what is known as grey water and wants to see more effort, advice and help being given to householders to encourage them to reuse bath, shower, washing up and washing machine water.
ANGELA'S PLEA FOR DIRECT ACTION DEMOCRACY
ANGELA Smith, Labour MP for Basildon, delivered the annual Chelmsford Star Co-operative Party's lecture last night at the Essex Records Office.
“We are not simply facing an overall decline in participation, but what appears to be a generational 'switch off' from formal politics,” she said.
“And yet, despite the low turnout in governmental elections, political issues are more widely discussed than they have ever been and charities, voluntary organisations and single-issue groups are enjoying record numbers of members.
“There are literally hundreds of ways to engage democratically and really make a difference to the way people live and work - especially on a local level.
“From shop stewards to school governors, student councils to NHS trust board members, having your say on the way your area works does not have to stop once you leave the polling booth.”
30-0 - AND 612 MPs MISSING
IT'S unusual for the Commons to vote on a Friday, but last week was an exception, with a division on “that this House do sit in private.” The result was 30 votes against and 0 in favour with two tellers on each side. Two Essex Tories - Simon Burns (Chelmsford West) and Douglas Carswell (Harwich) - commendably were present but all other Essex and Suffolk MPs were missing - in fact 612 MPs were absent. Let's hope they weren't playing hooky but busy at work in their constituencies.
DUFF BACKS EUROPEAN HOMES PACKS
EAST of England Liberal Democrat Euro MP Andrew Duff has joined other MEPs in asking Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection, to examine ways to help people building or buying property in other EU States.
He is backing the call by Spanish organisation Ciudadanos Europeos for the establishment of an information point to give people with the facts in their own language on European, national and regional legislation and conditions affecting trans-national home buying