More than 300 British parliamentarians from across the political spectrum demonstrated solidarity with Israel last month by uniting in the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group. The decision reasserts “the UK’s support for Israel at this unimaginably difficult time,” Bob Blackman, a Conservative politician and chair of the group, told JNS.
The actions of the Hamas terror organization that attacked Israel brutally on Oct. 7 “are absolutely beyond words,” he said. “I fully support Israel’s absolute right to self-defense and to take whatever action is necessary to eliminate threats of further escalation from terror groups.”
The parliamentary group aims to foster ties between the United Kingdom and the Jewish state, said Blackman, a member of Parliament from Harrow East who was first elected in 2010.
Blackman is one of several British politicians who have both voiced unwavering support for Israel and who have criticized the Hamas terror group’s overseas backers in Qatar and Iran. He told JNS that the United Kingdom must urgently proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which aids and funds terrorism.
The United Kingdom does not designate the IRGC as a terror group. Washington has done so since April 15, 2019.
The parliamentarian also raised concerns about the Qatari regime’s support for Hamas. “Qatar has sheltered Hamas for years, housing many of the organization’s senior officials and providing an extortionate amount of funding year on year,” Blackman told JNS.
“The reports that the leader of the Hamas terrorist group delivered a televised speech directly from Qatar in the wake of the terror attacks, claiming the group was on the ‘verge of a great victory,’ is absolutely sickening,” he added. “It is hard to believe the Qatar government when they then claim to have no affiliation or support for Hamas.”
The parliamentarian also demanded that the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom), the country’s official broadcast media regulatory body, investigate the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera station.
In mid-October, Israel moved to ban the station, which is one of a few international outlets with bureaus in Gaza and Israel.
‘Iran is major aggressor in region’
Saudi Arabia banned hotels and tourist facilities from airing Al-Jazeera in 2017 after Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani recognized Iran as an Islamic regional power, and praised the Hezbollah and Hamas terror organizations.
The United Kingdom and Qatar have strong economic ties. London and Doha signed a Strategic Investment Partnership in May 2022, in which the latter pledged to invest up to about $12 billion in the British economy. Trade between the United Kingdom and Qatar amounted to nearly $15 billion in 2022.
Lord Pickles, the UK government’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, also condemned the terrorist attacks and Iran’s role.
“There is no moral equalization between terrorists and Israel,” he told JNS. “We must stand with Israel during that time. We expect the police to take action against anyone spreading antisemitism.”
“Iran is the major aggressor in the region,” Pickles added. “The Hamas attack was in part aimed at damaging the Saudi talks.”
UK-Iranian relations are considerably cooler than those between London and Doha. There have been long-standing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, proxies across the Middle East and the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals.
These tensions came to the fore earlier this year after Tehran’s violent crackdown on widespread protests after the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in October 2022 by the regime’s morality police for not properly wearing a headscarf. Following that were Iran’s provision of drones for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and evidence of abductions and killings overseas, including within the United Kingdom.
‘Shockwaves as far away as Westminster’
Nickie Aiken, a Conservative member of Parliament, also expressed deep concern over the recent terrorist attack in Israel, acknowledging its impact on her constituency in central London in an interview with JNS.
“My constituency has always prided itself in welcoming people from every corner of the globe and living side by side in peace,” she said. “What we’re witnessing with the terrorist attack in Israel does send shockwaves as far away as Westminster.”
“I am appalled by the antisemitic incidents we have witnessed. I suspect those involved are likely to be from outside the area,” she added.
And on Nov. 11, Armistice Day, pro-Palestinian rallies set for London have drawn concern.
Aiken also said she had liaised with the police to request higher police presence in specific areas, particularly around synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods, and had “urged Westminster City Council to provide community reassurance.”
“I have been disappointed by the communications vacuum from the council since the attack began,” she told JNS.