David Cameron at the Knesset
British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 12, 2014. Photo by AFP
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British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged in the Knesset on Wednesday to oppose the boycott of Israel and defeat all attempts to delegitimize the country.

"In me, you have a prime minister whose belief is unbreakable and who will always stand up for Israel," Cameron proclaimed, during a special sitting of the plenum. "I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens."

Cameron said that he had a clear message for all those wanting to boycott Israel: "Britain opposes boycotts." Israel's fate, he added, "will never rest on statements by amateur politicians. It is founded in law - both to put right historic wrongs and because Israel is a democracy."

The British prime minister also emphasized that he sees Israel as the homeland of the Jews. "Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will not be challenged by amateur politicians. Delegitimizing the State of Israel is wrong and together we will defeat it."

Saying that the future "is not just about peace and prosperity, important as those are," but about "justice for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, Cameron proceeded to present his hopes for the future.

"Imagine what this land would be like if a two-state solution was actually achieved," he said. "Imagine Israel’s relationships with the world; its security, its long-term prosperity and the quality of life for all its people."

"An end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea. An end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations General Assembly passed three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put together. No more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognize Israel."

The British prime minister also spoke about the Holocaust and what he called "the sheer strength of humanity" of the survivors he had met. "They do it because they share an urgent sense of mission that their story must never be forgotten – and"I share that mission too".

Referring to the British Holocaust Commission that he established recently, Cameron said that he was "determined that long after [the survivors] are gone and long after we are all gone their memory will be as strong and vibrant as it is today.

"I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust and to understand just how vital it is to fight discrimination and prejudice in our world."

The sacrifices of the Jewish people, Cameron averred, "were not just to build a state that was physically secure. They were to build a state that would fulfil its rightful moral position in a region where security, dignity and mutual respect would be the new watchwords.

Regarding Iran, the British prime minister said that "Israel is not the cause of the shadow that Iran casts over the world. There is no rule that says if Israel and the Palestinians make peace, Iran is somehow going to dismantle its despotic regime or abandon its nuclear intentions."

Nevertheless, he made a clear call for Israel to accept the current international negotiations with Iran. Getting Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, he said, "can only be done through sustained international pressure. I share your deep skepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world - not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen."

In ending, Cameron said that, as a Conservative, he believes that "every country must make its own way. But we should never forget those values that are at the heart of our own progress.

"And that means supporting the evolution of effective and accountable government and backing people in their search for a job and a voice."

Netanyahu: Britain always supported Zionism

Speaking before Cameron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Britain had always been a strong and consistent supporter of Zionism – a fact that many people tried to hide by "rewriting history."  

Peace, he said, means denying those attempts to rewrite history – "to tell the truth again and again." Since the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu added, "every Israeli government has tried to achieve peace with the Palestinians, including by making difficult concessions.

"If time for peace is running out it’s not because of Israel. Palestinian rejectionism - and not Jewish settlement - is the root of the problem." And, he added ominously, "If time is running out, it is running out for the Palestinians, too."

Concessions must first come from the Palestinians, by accepting Israel as a Jewish state and agreeing to the necessary security conditions. "International demands must be made of the Palestinians," he stated. "As long as international pressure is on Israel only, the Palestinians will harden their positions and there will be no movement to peace."

The Knesset was orderly and receptive during Cameron's speech. That was not the case when Netanyahu spoke, however, nor during the speeches of Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.  Their speeches were marked by vigorous heckling, which resulted in several MKs being removed from the chamber.