Saturday, July 22, 2006

British government breaks with Bush over Israel

Britain has dramatically broken ranks with George Bush over the Lebanon crisis, publicly criticising Israel's military tactics and urging the Americans to 'understand' the price being paid by ordinary Lebanese civilians.

The remarks, made in Beirut today by the Foreign Office Minister, Kim Howells, were the first public criticism of the US voiced by Britain. The Observer can also reveal that Tony Blair urged restraint in a private telephone convseration with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week.


Speaking to a BBC reporter before travelling on for talks in Israel, where he will also visit missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite-number, Howell said: 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation.'

He added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.' Only hours earlier, President Bush used his weekly radio address to place the blame for the crisis squarely on Hizbollah and their Syrian and Iranian backers.


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