The opposition leader in the British Parliament on Monday denounced Israel’s ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip Monday and said it would likely only make the situation worse.
By contrast, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron robustly defended Israel’s right to self-defense and blamed Hamas for the crisis.
Ed Miliband, who is leader of the Labour Party, addressed the crisis in Gaza when he met with President Barack Obama and US National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Monday, the Huffington Post reported.
“We oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza,” Miliband said. “I don’t think it will help win Israel friends. I don’t think this will make the situation better. I fear it will make it worse.”
Miliband, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel earlier this year, suggested that while diminishing Israel’s position in the eyes of the world, the conflict would also boost Hamas recruitment efforts.
He also blamed the increasing violence on the lack of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“What this horrendous, terrible last few weeks has shown is the vacuum of not having a process is incredibly dangerous,” he said. “That vacuum means any restraint breaks down. And so you’ve got to restart a process.”
Such a peace process would be badly impacted by continued settlement construction, he warned.
“I am concerned that the more settlements there are, the more the growth of settlements can become a problem in relation to the peace process, he said.
The comments came after Miliband over the weekend had justified Israel’s right to self-defense but decried the Palestinian deaths.
“I defend Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks,” he said. “But I cannot explain, justify or defend the horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children and innocent civilians.”
By contrast, Cameron said Israel was defending itself. “I’ve been clear throughout this crisis that Israel has the right to defend itself,” he said. Those criticizing Israel’s response must ask themselves how they would expect their own government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on British cities today.”
Cameron said he had told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he backed “Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself” and stressed “our condemnation of Hamas’s refusal to end their rocket attacks.”
The Gaza fatalities were “heartbreaking,” he said, but “The crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities, indiscriminately targeting civilians in contravention of all humanitarian law and norms.”
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to stem rocket fire at Israel by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. An air assault followed by a ground incursion into the coastal enclave has killed over 500 Palestinians according to Gaza sources.
Palestinians have fired over 2,000 rockets at Israel over the past two weeks and a total of 27 Israelis, including 25 soldiers, have been killed.