BORIS Johnson has said he is “prepared” to restart sanctions against Tehran.
The new British Prime Minister’s comments came in an interview earlier this month with the UK Jewish News, during which he vowed to pursue Palestinian leaders over their policy of paying salaries to terrorists.
Johnson, whose maternal great-grandfather was Jewish, also responded to concern over his labelling of Israel’s actions in the 2014 Gaza conflict as “disproportionate” and said “wild horses wouldn’t keep me away” from becoming the latest PM to visit the Jewish State.
On Iran, the former foreign minister and London mayor insisted the nuclear deal to which the UK remains a signatory has stopped Tehran from building a nuclear weapon – but said Britain must now wait for a the international watchdog to confirm Iran’s claims that it has already broken its terms before considering sanctions. “We face a very difficult situation and I am certainly prepared to go down that route if they have breached the nuclear deal. My strong, strong advice to the Iranians would be to cease this madness, not to take any further steps that would break the terms of the agreement, and not to acquire a nuclear weapon.
“I think that there are enough tensions in that region without triggering a nuclear arms race, whose consequences would be very hard to foresee, and which would certainly pose very difficult choices for any Israeli government.”
Johnson described himself as a “passionate Zionist” and Israel as a “great country” that “I love”. It was in this context that he sought to explain his characterisation of the IDF’s operation against Hamas in 2014 as “disproportionate”.
“Those of us who support Israel always want Israel to show the greatest possible restraint in all its actions and to do everything it can to minimise civilian casualties. It’s totally unacceptable that innocent Israeli civilians should face the threat of rocket fire and bombardment from Gaza. I understand why Israel reacted in the way that it did and I understand the provocation and the outrageous behaviour that occasioned that response. All I’m saying is that you know in any such response it’s always right to be proportionate.
“Israel has a right to respond, Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel has a right to meet force with force. I absolutely agree with that, but all I was saying is I believe in Israel. I support Israel. I will always support Israel. I just joined with those who say, ‘I want the Israeli response to be proportionate.'”
He also strongly condemned the Palestinian policy of offering salaries to terrorists. “There are funds that are made available to the Palestinian Authority that end up in the pockets of terrorist families, and that is indeed a point I raised with Mahmoud Abbas, and will continue to raise,” he said. “I think it’s ludicrous that there should be any kind of financial incentive or compensation for terrorist activities.”
On Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticised for allowing antisemitism to fester within his party and who has been accused of antisemitism himself, Johnson said, “I can’t make a window into his soul, and discover exactly where his feelings lie on this. I think there is no question that he is indulging and condoning antisemitism in the Labour Party that is quite extraordinary and reprehensible. It would never have been tolerated 20 years ago.”
JUSTIN COHEN/JEWISH NEWS UK