Addressing an influential gathering of the Jewish community at an event in London, Prime Minister David Cameron defined what he perceives as the three key steps to secure Israel’s future: standing up to Iran, seizing the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring to spread democracy and making the hard choices needed to resolve Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Read the speech in full.
Speaking on the day that the European Union (EU) agreed to increase the pressure on Iran with another package of sanctions, the Prime Minister expressed his belief that the sanctions should be given time time to work. Mr Cameron added that- in the long term- if Iran does not address the concerns of the international community, “nothing is off the table”.
Mr Cameron said:
Let’s be clear about the facts. Iran is flouting six United Nations resolutions.The Regime’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended purely for civilian purposes is not remotely credible. And it has shown its violent agenda by exporting terror and violence to Iraq, to Syria, to Gaza, to Lebanon and to many peace-loving countries across the world.
Iran is not just a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the world. Now there are some who say nothing will work - and that we have to learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran. I say we don’t and we shouldn’t.But at the same time I also refuse to give in to those who say that the current policy is fatally flawed, and that we have no choice but military action.
A negotiated settlement remains within Iran’s grasp for now. But until they change course, we have a strategy of ever tougher sanctions. Just today, Britain has secured a further round of new sanctions through the EU Foreign Affairs Council. And these relentless sanctions are having an impact no-one expected a year ago.
They have slowed the nuclear programme. Iranian oil exports have fallen by 45 per cent. That’s 1 million fewer barrels a day. And $8 billion in revenues lost every quarter. The Rial has plummeted - losing around half its value between May and September. Inflation is soaring - thought to be as much as 50 per cent. And the Iranian Regime has had to establish an economic austerity taskforce to manage the pressure they have brought on their own people.
Most significantly, there are signs that the Iranian people are beginning to question the Regime’s strategy with even pro-regime groups protesting at the actions of the Government. It’s mind boggling that the leaders of a nation so rich in oil have succeeded in turning their country into a banana republic desperately trying to put rockets into space while their people suffer.
The Iranian regime is under unprecedented pressure and faces an acute dilemma. They are leading their people to global isolation and an economic collapse. And they know it.
They know too that there is a simple way to bring sanctions to an end - by giving the international community the confidence we need that they are not and will not develop a nuclear weapon.
I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu that now is not the time for Israel to resort to military action. Beyond the unpredictable dangers inherent in any conflict, the other reason is this: at the very moment when the Regime faces unprecedented pressure and the people are on the streets; and when Iran’s only real ally in Syria is losing his grip on power, a foreign military strike is exactly the chance the Regime would look for to unite his people against a foreign enemy. We shouldn’t give them that chance.
We need the courage to give these sanctions time to work.
But let me also say this. In the long term, if Iran makes the wrong choice, nothing is off the table. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to Israel. And a threat to the world. And this country will work unwaveringly to prevent that from happening.
Speaking about the Arab Spring, Mr Cameron said that it presents huge challenges but added:
”If we can show the strength and courage to engage with new democratic governments, their chance to establish the building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies offers the greatest opportunity for stability and peace in a generation.
And on relations with Palestine the Prime Minister said:
I know how hard the concessions needed for peace can be. But the truth is, time is running out for a two state solution - and with it Israel’s best chance to live in peace with its neighbours.
Mr Cameron concluded by stating that Britain will always stand by Israel, protect Israel, and work with Israel on the path to peace:
For now, Israel will continue to face acute threats and a hard road to peace. But with strength and courage we can, together, stand up to Iran. We can, together, seize the opportunities presented by the spread of democracy in the wider region. And we can together take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.