Nigel Dodds has produced a speech of real substance in relation to Israel.
The speech was made recently at the House of Commons to members of the Zionist Federation and the Christian Friends of Israel (amongst others). It has been reproduced in The Jerusalem Post.
The speech is direct, succinct and powerfully argued. I wrote a column in the News Letter today where I reflected the low esteem in which many politicians are held by bloggers and media. In my view, this is a speech that counters this view.
The intro and contextualising is very sharp – the link is worth reading in full. But on the substance, Dodds draws upon Northern Ireland’s peace agreement and warns against ‘constructive ambiguities’.
His conclusion – and words of advice to Israel – is that a deal which lionises individuals ahead of the best interests of the people of that country is a failed product. Strength in the face of external pressure lies at the core of Dodds’ message.
“… there are the international players, and you will be very familiar with the cast. As key actors in the Northern Ireland political process, we are all too familiar with the ways and wiles of the Tony Blairs, Bill Clintons and George Mitchells of this world. While good will and friendship should never be rejected, it should always be remembered that it is Israel and its people that will have to live with the day-to-day consequences of any agreement. A deal that wins Nobel Prizes but fails helps no one. International actors will always be driven more by a desire that the process achieves an outcome rather than by what that outcome is.
Do not let it.
The focus must be on an agreement that is comprehensive and detailed, leaving little to later interpretation or vagueness. In our process we were told of the so-called benefits of “constructive ambiguity.”
The disadvantages far outweighed the advantages. I am also of a political party that has been often associated with the word no.
We must always be ready to say yes when the terms are right, but equally if what is offered to Israel does not secure the right, proper and deserved peace, remember that sometimes it’s right to say no.”
It’s also worth noting that he disparages the “naivety” of Barack Obama.
An NI audience might argue that the DUP has not, in fact, said ‘no’. That it is administering power with republicanism, whereas the UUP administered power with the constitutional nationalism. But that is too self-regarding. The content here shows that NI MPs can engage, analyse and advise on international affairs with some authority.