CFI lead communal tributes to David Trimble
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CFI lead communal tributes to David Trimble

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Lord Trimble - widely hailed as a true friend of Israel - has died aged 77

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

David Trimble, the Northern Ireland politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was also an observer on an Israeli commission of inquiry into a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)
David Trimble, the Northern Ireland politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was also an observer on an Israeli commission of inquiry into a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

The Conservative Friends of Israel organisation have led the communal tributes to David Trimble, Northern Ireland’s former First Minister, following his death, aged 77.

Lord Trimble – who was widely hailed as a true friend of Israel – was a parliamentary officer with CFI, who regularly spoke out in defence of the Jewish State in front of world leaders.

His death on Monday was announced by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the party he led into a historic power-sharing arrangement with nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland.

In a tribute posted on social media CFI said:”Few people have had such a constant support for Israel.”

They added Trimble’s “invaluable insights and experience” had been “cherished” throughout his involvement with the organisation.

“His contribution to trying to secure peace at home and in the Middle East speaks for itself and he will be mourned by many,” added CFI.

He made his first visit to Israel in 2000 as First Minister.

Once asked by the Israeli lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky were his support for the Jewish state came from Trimble replied in 2018:”It’s just the right thing to do.”

The late Lord David Trimble pictured with Israeli lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky in 2018. (Twitter)

Trimble went on to author CFI’s pamphlet ‘Misunderstanding Ulster’, which challenged simplistic comparisons of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He also criticised those arguing the Good Friday Agreement should compel Israel to negotiate with Hamas.

In 2013, Trimble had appeared before the UN Human Rights Council, and warned the body its conduct “can only undermine and subvert the peace process”.

He also warned of “singling out only one specific country, to the exclusion of virtually everything else.”

Trimble was the first person to serve in the role of First Minister, and won the Nobel peace prize, along with John Hume, leader of the nationalist SDLP party.

He was UUP leader between 1995 and 2005, accepting a life peerage in the House of Lords in 2006.

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