Israeli Politicians Debate Brexit’s Implications for Israel

June 26, 2016

2 min read

After a historic and stunning decision by British voters in favor of leaving the European Union in Thursday’s referendum, causing UK Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation on Friday, Israeli leaders have begun to debate the implications for Israel of the so-called Brexit.

“Britain seeking its nationalism and not the European Union is good for Israel,” wrote MK Moti Yogev, of the nationalist Jewish Home party, in a Facebook post on Friday morning.

“A European Union that applauds [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen as he tells blood libels about us deserves to be weakened and to deal with its own problems instead of pressuring Israel,” Yogev added, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his familiar Arabic nickname. “The separation of a powerful Britain from the European Union is a good thing for Israel.”

Yogev was referring to remarks made by Abbas in a speech to the European Union Parliament on Thursday accusing Israeli “rabbis” of calling to poison the Palestinian water supply, despite the fact that the myth, based on an apparently fabricated media report, has been widely debunked and dismissed as anti-Semitic. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Abbas’ accusation a “blood libel.”

Yogev’s position on the Brexit appears in sync with that of a right-wing NGO Regavim, who produced this satirical video several weeks ago arguing that Israel would benefit from a weaker EU minus Britain, while Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and seeks the destruction of Israel, would suffer.

Indeed, as the results of the referendum came out Regavim issued a statement congratulating Britain and thanking its “supporters who took a stand for the independence of Britain and Israel.”

Yet UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, argued precisely the opposite. Speaking to Jewish voters earlier in the week, Cameron asked: “Do you want Britain, Israel’s greatest friend, in there opposing boycotts, opposing the campaign for divestment and sanctions, or do you want us outside the room, powerless to effect the discussion that takes place?”

This sentiment was echoed by former Israeli Ambassador to the UK Dror Zeigerman.

“We need the UK to be part of Europe because we do not have many close friends there,” Zeigerman argued to TPS before the referendum. “The current UK government is friendly to Israel and it is better that they have influence within the EU.”

Following the announcement of Cameron’s resignation, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called him “a true gentleman” who “demonstrated deep friendship to Israel.”

“Only recently he championed an important decision against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel) in Britain,” Erdan pointed out.

Still, other Israeli politicians debated the implications of the referendum on Israeli policy regarding the determination of its borders.

“What the nations want: nation-states that determine their fates on their own and protect their unique culture and their borders,” tweeted Gidon Sa’ar, a former Israeli interior minister who is widely seen as a potential challenger to Netanyahu, on Friday morning.

Tzipi Livni, a leader of the Zionist Union opposition faction, responded on Twitter: “Correct. It’s time to take our fate in our hands and decide our borders. If (British voters) decided to cut themselves off from Paris shouldn’t we cut ourselves off from Ramallah?” she said, referring to the capital city of the Palestinian Authority. Livni added the hashtag: #ReferendumNow.

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