If the Conservatives have drawn closer to the LibDems on many domestic issues since David Cameron became Tory leader, including localism and the environment, there remain wide differences in foreign policy. Despite William Hague’s tip-toe criticisms of Israel the Conservatives have not joined Ming Campbell in comparing the behaviour of Hizbollah and Israel.
Yesterday, after figures showed a doubling of UK arms sales to Israel, the LibDem leader said:
"The Government is right to ensure there are no arms transfers, either direct or indirect, from the UK to Syria, Iran or illegal armed groups such as the military wing of Hizbollah … The Government must now comply with its own arms export rules and institute an immediate suspension of all UK arms exports to Israel."
Few Tories will accept that trading with authoritarian Syria and Iran can be put on the same level as with democratic Israel.
Israel’s many critics would appear to be in touch with UK public opinion, however. An ICM survey for The Guardian finds that just 22% of Britons believe that Israel has reacted "proportionately" to the Hizbollah attacks.