Mil­liband trib­ute ahead of Is­rael trip

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIELLA PELED

FOR­EIGN SEC­RE­TARY David Mil­liband de­liv­ered an un­scripted trib­ute to Is­rael’s achieve­ments and search for peace at the Is­raeli em­bassy In­de­pen­dence Day Party this week.

Ex­press­ing his de­light at par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cel­e­bra­tion, held at a cen­tral Lon­don ho­tel with 2,000 in­vited guests, Mr Mil­liband praised Is­rael’s free press and achieve­ments in agri­cul­ture and tech­nol­ogy.

Re­fer­ring to re­cent meet­ings with Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert, For­eign Min­is­ter Tzipi Livni and Defence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak, he said their mes­sage was that “there was an un­writ­ten chap­ter to Is­rael’s his­tory that still has to be writ­ten and that is peace with their neigh­bours”.

Mr Miliband also quoted Is­rael’s first Prime Min­is­ter, David Ben-Gu­rion, who said “if we have to de­fend our­selves against our en­e­mies, then we can only count on our­selves…but when there is a chance to make peace, we must mo­bilise all our al­lies to achieve it”. Last week, in a brief­ing with Jewish and Is­raeli me­dia, Mr Mil­liband in­sisted that “the next six to eight weeks will come to be seen as very im­por­tant in the search for a sus­tain­able two-state so­lu­tion”.

Mr Mil­liband is to visit Is­rael next month, while Prime Min­is­ter Gor­don Brown — who also at­tended the em­bassy party — is sched­uled to go there in July.

Mr Mil­liband said that re­cent un­rest in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the vi­o­lence in the Le­banese cap­i­tal, Beirut, was cause for con­cern, along with the sit­u­a­tion in the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries.

“It’s very im­por­tant to ad­dress the hu­man cri­sis in Gaza,” he said, while stress­ing that the Pales­tini­ans were be­com­ing aware of who was ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for their sit­u­a­tion.

“Ha­mas has killed two Is­raeli civil­ians try­ing to de­liver fuel — yet an­other rea­son to be un­der no il­lu­sions as to what Ha­mas is do­ing.

“The at­tacks show who is try­ing to make a po­lit­i­cal point.”

He also ex­pressed con­cerns over the forth­com­ing UN Hu­man Rights con­fer­ence, which has been dubbed Dur­ban II and sched­uled to be held next year.

The pre­vi­ous UN hu­man rights sum­mit in Dur­ban, South Africa, in 2000 was marred by a se­ries of an­tisemitic in­ci­dents and a wave of anti-Is­raeli rhetoric.

“We are very con­cerned to not have a re­peat of Dur­ban I,” he said.

“We are en­gaged but de­ter­mined t o e n s u r e i t d o e s n ’ t b e c o me Dur­ban II.”

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