Jerusalem: Visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron gave Israel a welcome boost of support from Europe in a warm address to its parliament, vowing to stand by Israel in opposing a nuclear Iran, combating Islamic extremism and rejecting boycott attempts against the Jewish state.
In a speech peppered with expressions in Hebrew, Cameron mentioned his own Jewish ancestors and Britain`s crucial role in Israel`s establishment.
While voicing support for US-led peace talks, Cameron mostly steered clear of Israeli policies that have drawn fire, with only passing criticism of West Bank settlement construction.
He did not offer advice, a common practice of visiting leaders which many Israelis find annoying, but rather asked Israelis to "imagine" the benefits of peace.
"Let me say to you very clearly: With me, you have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel`s security will always be rock solid," Cameron yesterday said in his first visit to Israel as prime minister. "We will be with you every step of the way."
The reassuring words were welcomed in Israel, which has come under some tough criticism in Europe.
The heaviest international censure is levelled at Israeli construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-won lands claimed by the Palestinians.
The United States and European Union consider settlement construction illegal or illegitimate, and have warned that Israel could face growing isolation if the current round of peace talks with the Palestinians set to end next month fails.
Cameron made only a brief mention of settlement construction, coupling it with a call to end Palestinian incitement against Israel.
Buoyed by the Palestinian-led movement calling for a boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, some businesses and pension funds in Europe have recently cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to West Bank settlements.
Israel charges the boycott has strong anti-Semitic connotations and is meant to legitimise the Jewish state as a whole, and not merely a pressure tactic against its policies toward the Palestinians.
For many Israelis, the boycott conjures up dark images of the Nazi boycott prior and during WWII when Jewish academics were kicked out of universities and Jewish businesses were vandalised and boycotted.