Speech Given by Iain Duncan Smith
Conservative Friends of Israel - 9th December 2002
Can I begin by saying how pleased I am to be with you today, and how delighted I am to see so many old friends and, I hope, for the opportunity to meet many new ones.
Last year when I spoke to the Conservative Friends of Israel, my speech was set against the backdrop of a terrorist campaign, the like of which the world had never yet seen.
And Israel too was facing a renewed and sustained terror campaign from suicide bombs determined to kill and maim innocent civilians.
One year on, I regret to say very little has changed. Violence and death continue, in Israel, on the West Bank, and wider afield. Inevitably so many of the victims are innocent civilians - some of them British.
A Kenyan Hotel bombed - killing and injuring innocent holiday makers.
Hundreds of innocent young people killed and injured in a Bali nightclub.
Two heat-seeking missiles targeted at an Israeli chartered jet.
Eleven people recently murdered on a bus by a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem.
Twelve people murdered in Hebron only a fortnight ago.
The war waged by terrorism against civilisation - against those countries, who cherish democracy and the rule of law - continues.
We now know what many have long-suspected, that there are no limits to the atrocities terrorists will commit to spread fear among free peoples.
We have a moral as well as a practical duty to stand by those who make their stand against terror.
Mr Chairman, that is why I pay tribute to the courage and the strength of the Israeli people here today.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of addressing the Conference of European Jewish Leaders. I reminded them of Golda Meir's wonderful remark:
"Pessimism is a luxury that no Jew can allow himself".
In a similar vein Winston Churchill once said:
"It is better to be frightened now than killed thereafter".
Both are telling us the same thing.
Appeasement is not an option.
Every democracy has a right to defend itself against such attacks. Israel is no exception.
Israel is a part of the front line for democracy against terrorism.
It must not stand alone.
And Mr Chairman we will not let it stand alone.
Like everyone here today, I am also passionately concerned how we bring peace to the Middle East and the wider world.
Saddam Hussein is a constant and dangerous threat to that peace. His track record in slaughtering his own people is well known. So too is his wider record in the Middle East, including the invasion of Kuwait.
There is no doubt that he is obsessed with building and acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Thanks to Israel, his earlier attempts to develop a nuclear arsenal were prevented.
We know that previous United Nations weapons inspectorates found evidence of Saddam's chemical and biological weapons. I have no doubt that if left to his own devices he will keep manufacturing and stockpiling these weapons and that one day he will deploy them.
That is why the unanimous vote of the Security Council supporting Resolution 1441 is so important. It underwrites the objective of eliminating these weapons and it shows Saddam that we are united in this cause.
This weekend Iraq declared its weapons programmes. We must now carefully consider the implications of this declaration. When the inspectors produce their report and the UN reconvenes, the full extent of Iraqi compliance will be known. As the Prime Minister has said: if Saddam fails to disarm "the consequence is that the weapons will be disarmed by force" (Radio Monte Carlo, 14 November). Not 'may be' or 'could be', but 'will be'.
It is this approach that will lead to the disarmament of Iraq.
And it is this approach that will lead to greater security for Israel and for the world.
Those who genuinely seek evidence that Saddam has the means, the mentality and the method to use weapons of mass destruction will find there is plenty of it; those who oppose intervention in Iraq at all costs will never find enough.
Let us suppose for a moment that the doubters are right and that we are mistaken; not about Saddam's cruelty or wickedness but about the scale and readiness of the weapons he possesses.
And then let us suppose that our critics are wrong and that he does have the programmes and equipment we fear.
Whose mistake would be the bigger; whose mistake would pose the greatest threat to the safety of people in this country, across Europe, in the Middle-East and inside Iraq itself?
We should ask the question; what if Saddam were in the future to arm terrorist fanatics? The consequences could be appalling - not just for one generation, but for many.
The world cannot afford to give Saddam the benefit of the doubt. Time is on his side, not ours.
That is why, despite our differences, the Conservative Party will continue to give strong support to the Prime Minister in his determination to disarm the Iraqi regime.
But it is not only in Iraq that we need to look for lasting and genuine solutions.
At first sight, the prospects for peace between Israel and its neighbours seems further away than ever.
Yet in the last few months there have been a few - important - signs that that some senior Palestinians are recognising the futility of the suicide bombings.
A former aide of Yasser Arafat last week apparently described the bombings as a disaster for the Palestinian people as did a leading member of Fatah.
It is vital that we encourage progressive elements within the Palestinian leadership without whom there can be no peace. But the Palestinian authorities must also know that there will be no peace until Chairman Arafat stops sustaining and encouraging terrorism.
The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of corruption, extremism, violence and misjudgements. They need real leadership. Leadership which disowns terrorism and disarms quartermasters.
Only then will there be the kind of progress that they, and we, all want to see.
Our party supports the Tenet peace plan and the Mitchell proposals. We welcome the dialogue begun by moderates in the Middle East like Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. And we will also look with interest at the two state solution proposals set out by President Bush.
At first sight, this plan offers a number of advantages. While guaranteeing the setting up of a viable Palestinian state, it offers Israel the most crucial guarantee of all: her short and long term security.
For its part, my party will work hard with the Government and President Bush to achieve these goals.
If a viable Palestinian state is to be acceptable, it must be based on the oxygen of democracy not the suffocation of terror. It cannot be allowed to threaten the security of Israel or be used by those with grudges against Israel.
The Conservatives will use every opportunity to make that plain.
The European Union has a special responsibility to ensure that it is not inadvertently supporting terrorism by the misappropriation of development funds
I think I speak for everyone today in supporting Charles Tannock, who has been campaigning relentlessly, with the help of his Conservative MEP colleagues, to set up a European Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry into allegations that EU money given as aid to the Palestinian Authority (10 million euros per month) is being secretly used to fund terrorist activity against Israel.
For the enquiry to commence 157 MEPs have to sign his motion and Charles is now very close to achieving that number.
Sadly, the latest list available shows that not one British Labour MEP has yet to support his call for an inquiry.
It is the role of the European Parliament to ensure that taxpayers' money is never used, however inadvertently, to fund terrorism. It is the British Conservatives in the European Parliament who are leading this fight.
If anyone here today knows a Labour MEP I urge you to ask them to back our call.
As in so many ways, we need deeds rather than words, real help in the fight against terrorism, not sound good platitudes.
Some of you may remember that when I spoke to last year's lunch I said that that it was also time for some our national broadcasters to stop using platitudes and describing Hamas and Islamic Jihad by such euphemisms as radical and militant.
I argued that such obfuscations were absurd when even Palestinian moderates in Jerusalem were describing the suicide bombers as terrorists.
I said then and I say again now: Broadcasters should call these groups what they are: terrorist organisations.
Such fudging of what Hamas or Islamic Jihad are confers a dangerous legitimacy on people who could easily extend their war of terror to this country.
If this were not bad enough, a recent BBC TV report - on the Iraqi Parliament made no mention the true status of this so-called Parliament.
Broadcasters should call dictatorships what they are: dictatorships.
They should have a responsibility to ensure that the viewing public are made fully aware of the difference between a parliament under dictatorship and a parliamentary democracy.
Especially when we have to recognise that our support for democracy over dictatorship makes our own country a prime target for Al Queda and other terrorist organisations.
Like Israel, Britain has experienced the carnage of terrorism for many years.
Now the threat from Al Qaeda and other forms of global terrorism are reaching these shores.
In the face of these threats we must all be united. But I am concerned that as a country we are not yet prepared for a 21st Century terrorist campaign possibly being planned.
Recently, there have been worrying signs of muddled presentation and, even more disturbingly, of a lack of urgency in Whitehall when it comes to preparing to meet that threat.
The Home Office has published documents on public security, only to have them withdrawn in error. The National Audit Office have reported that the NHS is ill prepared to cope with terror attacks or disaster.
Meanwhile there have been a number of 'security scares' in Britain that have heightened anxieties.
There is evidence that plans for dealing with a major terrorist incident are amateurish and disorganised, and that remarkably little has been done since the September 11 attack nearly 15 months ago.
The problem is that there is no one individual with sufficient authority and time to cut through Whitehall red tape, bang heads together and ensure that Britain is adequately protected.
It cannot be done just by the Prime Minister - with all the weight of Government on his shoulders - nor just by the Home Secretary.
That is why I ask the Government to give strong consideration, whether we need a weighty and tough-minded political figure, constantly pursuing each of the relevant Ministers and Departments to ensure that everything that needs to be done, is being done.
However, if there is one section of our society that is in a state of preparedness it is the
As I have seen in every visit I have made to Jewish organisations across the country, instead of waiting for the State to solve a problem, you get together and try to solve it for yourselves.
The Community Security Trust does so much to ensure that Jewish people are able to worship in freedom and to combat anti Semitic abuse. The CST has been invaluable in providing information to relevant authorities about individuals and organisations with links to terrorists. I pay tribute to the Jewish Community for this initiative and to it's supporters, who I am pleased to see here today.
Thank goodness for the CST, but you have to ask yourself what kind of world we are living in when Jewish people on their way to worship on holy days have to be protected by voluntary security guards outside synagogues in central London and elsewhere.
We may have routed Nazism by 1945, but we have not yet vanquished terrorism or anti Semitism. We have a long way to go.
As well as establishing mechanisms for protecting Jewish people in Israel, through the work of CFI, you ensure that the needs of Israel are heard and represented throughout the Conservative Party.
I am proud that the Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Gillian Shephard is also the Parliamentary Chairman of CFI.
That two thirds of the Conservative Parliamentary party are also members of CFI.
That Leonard Steinburg and Michael Heller who are so active in CFI - and have done so much to support today's luncheon - continue to be so supportive of the Conservative Party.
Your Excellency, shortly you will return to Israel after giving unstinting service as Israel's Ambassador in Britain.
You will know by now who are real friends of Israel.
You will know that while we may disagree from time to time over individual actions, British Conservatives are true friends- in the good times and the bad.
Fair weather friends have run for cover. Not the Conservatives.
Such a close friendship based on the right values will endure.
There is a simple reason for this. Conservatives have always stood for the values that Israel stands for: freedom, positive achievement and the rule of law. As I have said before, these are the values that distinguish democracies from tyrannies and will underpin real and everlasting peace in the Middle East.
Mr Chairman, to end let me turn again to Winston Churchill. Before the State of Israel was established, he said this:
"the Jews of Palestine have a very great responsibility. You are the representatives of the Jewish nation all over the world. The hope of your race for so many centuries will be gradually realised here, not for your own good but for the good of the world".
As we all work towards achieving a settlement in the Middle East, it is a message we should never forget.