A new wrinkle in the distinction between British and American conservatism. The full context:
“Turkey's relationships in the [Middle East] region, both with Israel and with the Arab world, are of incalculable value. No other country has the same potential to build understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I know that Gaza has led to real strains in Turkey's relationship with Israel. But Turkey is a friend of Israel. And I urge Turkey, and Israel, not to give up on that friendship.
Let me be clear.
The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told PM Netanyahu, we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. But as, hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it's Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.“
Good for David Cameron. Gaza is indeed a prison camp, and the PM is right to say so. Naturally, his remark will be seen as inflammatory, particularly given its context. To put down a firm marker against Israel’s disgraceful siege of Gaza is one thing. To do so side-by-side with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyik Erdogan sends an even stronger signal, given the stand-off after the Israelis killed Turkish citizens in their raid on an aid flotilla.
Relations between the countries are at an all-time low, and Mr Cameron was also right to urge a reconciliation. But more importantly, he has indicated that Britain will not humour the Netanyahu government over Gaza. There are some encouraging signs that Mr Cameron, oppportunistic and Europhobic in opposition, may evolve a firmer and more creditable foreign policy than many supposed.
(Photo: Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan pose for media in Ankara on July 27, 2010. Cameron pledged to remain Turkey's 'strongest possible advocate for EU membership' and urged Ankara to 'push forward aggressively' with reform. By Adem Altam/AFP/Getty.)