CUFI UK is becoming increasingly concerned that the strong relationship between Israel and the UK is being negatively impacted by decisions and attitudes of the UK government, particularly the Foreign Office and the UK Foreign Secretary.

This week alone, Lord Cameron has threatened Israel with an arms embargo, both by the UK and across Europe, just weeks after threatening to recognise ‘Palestine’ as a response to the war. This anti-Israel rhetoric damages Israel and strengthens Hamas.

From the outset we must be clear that Christians United for Israel UK (CUFI UK) is non-partisan in politics, both in the UK and Israel. We are willing to work with any politician and party to advance our Christian Zionist beliefs. We are also willing to challenge any politician and party that works against those beliefs.

We are also called to defend Israel against attacks of antisemitism, which we believe the UK government is dangerously close to doing. The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes how treating Israel differently to other countries and holding it to higher standards is antisemitic.

Lord Cameron, the UK Foreign Secretary, has threatened that the UK could stop arms sales to Israel if it does not do more to assist in getting aid into Gaza. Israel is already doing more than any other nation in feeding the civilians population of its enemy. More than the UK itself in past wars. The UK never threatened an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, for example, when it blockaded Yemen and contributed to the deaths of 88,000 children between 2015-2018. During part of this time David Cameron was Prime Minister of the UK. So it shows Israel is being treated differently to other allies of ours.

He went further than simply threatening an arms embargo from just the UK. On Friday, news emerged that Lord Cameron threatened a Europe-wide arms embargo against Israel.

His ultimatum was that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must be allowed access to Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel or else an “arms embargo” against Israel will be declared across Europe.

This threat that all European nations will cease trading arms with Israel comes after the Canadian government announced an arms embargo with the Jewish state. It is a very real threat and one that is deeply troubling.

It’s even more troubling when we consider that the actions of the UK could be unwittingly aiding the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the funding of payments to terrorists if its demands are met.

An investigation by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) revealed that the Red Cross is being used as a vehicle for paying imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.

Qadura Fares, head of the PLO Prisoner Affairs Authority, admitted that they used the Red Cross for this purpose when he said on Palestinian television in January 2024 that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is “an essential partner in the process that enables the payment of rewards to the imprisoned Palestinians.”

Fares also decried the fact that Israel was blocking the Red Cross from seeing prisoners, thus hampering the PA’s ability to pay terrorist salaries.

“The occupation (i.e., Israel) is preventing the Red Cross from visiting the prisoners, and as a result, the Red Cross cannot provide the document given to new or veteran prisoners showing that they are still in prison. This is the document that we established in our [prisoners’ law] regulations as a main document [to confirm salary eligibility].”

[Source: Official PA TV, Jan. 31, 2024]

It seems that the Palestinian Authority is able to get around Israel’s restrictions on the funding of the terrorism by using the Red Cross as a ‘middle man’. This is something the Red Cross denies, but repeated claims from high profile politicians in the PLO who directly oversee the funding of terrorism stating that the Red Cross is “essential” should raise concerns to any government.

The PA is putting heavy pressure on the UK government. They are no doubt claiming that Israel is mistreating Palestinian prisoners and that the Red Cross must be allowed access to ensure humane conditions are met. Their real objective, it seems, is to restore the channel of terror funding.

Shamefully, the UK government has fallen for this trick, to the point where our leaders are willing to permanently damage the UK-Israel relationship with an arms embargo.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has not once made contact with or been allowed access to the Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. In fact, the Red Cross claims that it is up to Israel to negotiate with Hamas before they visit hostages.

Think about this for a moment. Hamas is holding innocent civilians who were kidnapped from their homes. Israel is holding terrorist suspects and members of Hamas who are accused of carrying out terror offenses. The UK isn’t pressuring Hamas or their allies to allow the Red Cross in to see these Israeli hostages. As far as we know, the UK isn’t pressuring Hamas leaders in Qatar, or Qatar itself, threatening European-wide sanctions on Qatar for hosting and funding an outlawed terrorist group. Instead, it seems only Israel is being pressured by the UK government.

The result of Lord Cameron’s actions is that Israel is smeared in the public eye, causing more people to turn their back on the Jewish state. Additionally, Israel is under threat of being weakened militarily if Europe implements an arms embargo against it. Simply put, the UK stance is weaking Israel and empowering Hamas.

If the UK is a true friend of Israel then the pressure should be placed upon Hamas, not Israel, to end this conflict. A ceasefire would happen immediately if Hamas released all the Israeli hostages and surrendered their weapons.

We are dismayed at the position the UK government has taken in this matter. There is no excuse for treating Israel this way.

As Christians who are united for Israel, we must pray for the UK’s leaders. They must change course on this issue before it is too late. We must stand against terror and stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. It’s important for the safety of Israel and for the Jewish community here in the UK.

Photo: Flickr, World Economic Forum / Photo by Moritz Hager

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