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Bibi visits UK amid fear of boycott of Israeli products

EU is about to decide on product-labelling rules to inform consumers if imported Israeli products come from Jewish settlements.

Antonia Filmer  London | 12th Sep 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with his wife Sara visited London this week, at the invitation of the British government, at a time when the European Union is about to decide on product-labelling rules to inform consumers if imported Israeli products come from Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. Israel regards this as discriminatory and estimates the procedure could eventually lead to a boycott of these products.

The four central themes under discussion between Cameron and Netanyahu were the migrant crisis, joint high-tech ventures, national security (terrorism) and negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu apparently told Cameron that he was willing to restart negotiations "without pre-conditions" but the Palestinians are unlikely to agree when the EU and United Nations are already doing so much of their bidding.

After failing to convince Capitol Hill to stymie the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu is asking Europe to support Israel. He is suggesting that Israel is the only true protection Europe has in the disintegrating Middle East against the surging extremist Islam at Israeli borders and within Israeli territory. Netanyahu said, "As soon as I return I will hold a meeting...about boosting forces, stepping up enforcement, minimum sentences, blowing up suicide terrorists' houses and other steps that we are determined to carry out against all those who try to attack us here, within the country. My policy is zero tolerance for terrorism and this is what we will do."

Recognising that Israel's foreign policy is leaving it isolated in the international community, the UK affirmed that it has been and is a close friend of Israel and enjoys excellent bilateral relations; UK's priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders.

Last year, David Cameron was saddened by the conflict. He was clear on the UK's recognition of Israel's right to take proportionate action to defend itself within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. The UK consistently urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint and to help find ways to bring the situation to an end. At the same time, Cameron condemned the terrorist tactics of Hamas, who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires.

The UK continues to urge the parties to give priority to reaching a durable solution for Gaza which addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza's reconstruction and economic recovery. Westminster believes that negotiations will continue to be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. David Cameron and his government reinforced this message to Netanyahu during the visit.

Controversially on the eve of the meeting at 10 Downing Street, Israelis and Palestinians faced off in clashes which led to several arrests.

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