Things are looking up for Israel among politicians in Britain. First, the new leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, suspended, and then expelled, from the Labour Party, the determinedly anti-Israel Jeremy Corbyn, who had led the party for five years, during which he tolerated, and even encouraged, antisemitism in the ranks. Corbyn is now well and truly out, a spent political force.
The Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been stoutly pro-Israel. And now that Johnson heads a caretaker government, the two leading candidates to replace him, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, have both made clear their staunch support for Israel.
In particular, Liz Truss, currently the Foreign Secretary, has now pledged that if elected, she will consider moving the British Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Were that to take place, it would likely lead another eight to ten countries, including Australia, Canada, Greece, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Paraguay, to follow suit.
According to Israel Hayom, British Foreign Secretary of State and Parliament member Liz Truss promised to consider moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if she is elected Tory leader and becomes prime minister in September.
The Conservative Party leadership candidate — one of two; she is vying against fellow Parliament member Rishi Sunak — made the promise in a letter written to members of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). She also participated in a CFI event on Monday night in which she addressed voters and answered questions about Israel-UK relations.
I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel”, Truss wrote in her letter, adding that she has had “many conversations with my good friend”, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, on the topic. She then vowed to “review a move to ensure we are operating on the strongest footing with Israel…”.
Truss said she “remain[s] committed to standing up to Iranian hostility and the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” and that “the safety and security of Israel is of the utmost importance”.
She additionally voiced support for Lapid’s recent criticism of the United Nations regarding its Special Committee to Investigate Israel Practices. She called it “institutionally biased and a waste of money,” saying “UN representatives with a history of anti-Semitic remarks should have no role in reviewing the activities of Israel”.
Support for Israel and the need to combat antisemitism were also stressed by Truss’s opponent in his own letter to Conservative Friends of Israel members.
Sunak wrote, “I am proud to be a friend of Israel and … to have served in a government that has elevated the UK-Israel relationship to its strongest position in my lifetime”.
He continued, “I know there is so much more that we can achieve together”.
Like his challenger, Sunak addressed the need to combat antisemitism and the BDS movement in the United Kingdom. As he wrote in his letter: “The divisive tactics of a small clique of left-wing activists do not represent wider society … .”
He also proposed making the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre free for visitors, and wants to introduce legislation to make sure the Holocaust educational facility is built “as soon as possible”.
Sunak, who is expected to meet with CFI members on Aug. 15, also said he is “deeply” concerned by Iran’s threat to Israel. “We cannot allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon, and the UK and Israel must enhance our diplomatic, defense and intelligence cooperation to prevent this from happening”.
As he told CFI members in his letter, “I will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself, and I pledge the UK’s unwavering support for Israel’s security”.
Both Truss and Sunak have pledged to combat the BDS movement and antisemitism. Both have expressed alarm about Iran’s pell-mell rush to manufacture a nuclear weapon and pledged to prevent it. But only Truss has denounced the UN’s grotesque antisemitism, and in particular, the open-ended Special Committee to Investigate Israel Practices. She called it “institutionally biased and a waste of money,” saying “UN representatives with a history of anti-Semitic remarks should have no role in reviewing the activities of Israel”. Sunak has yet to express any criticism of the UN’s grotesque mistreatment of Israel. Nor has he said anything about possibly moving the British Embassy in Israel to its capital, Jerusalem.
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