By Ray Fleming

TO take on France, Germany and Israel in the course of a couple of days suggests that David Cameron is feeling very confident. Perhaps over-confident? The reiteration of his earlier statement that Israel has made Gaza into a prison camp is most welcome and has obviously been noted in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and London to judge by the angry responses from Israeli sources. However the Gaza issue is a fairly straightforward issue whereas Mr Cameron's criticism of France and Germany for their deep-rooted opposition to Turkey's membership of the European Union is an altogether more complex matter.

Britain has been a strong supporter of Turkey's membership for many years and Mr Cameron was right to criticise Europe's readiness to accept Turkey's important role in NATO while refusing it a comparable status in the EU. Like many others he probably fears that the delaying tactics in dealing with Turkey's membership will quite soon lead Ankara to say that they have got the message and will look elsewhere for partners. However the prime minister's comparison between Britain's exclusion from Europe by General de Gaulle in the 1960s and Turkey's situation today -- “We know what it's like to be shut out of the club” -- was not well-judged given that until six months ago he was willing to put Britain's membership of the club at risk because of his opposition to the Lisbon Treaty. Has he changed so much?

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