Lord Polak praises PM Sunak over UN Israel vote stance

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Lord Polak praises PM Sunak over UN Israel vote stance

CFI honorary president Lord Polak issues challenge to UK government after suggesting it was "not at the table" as Abraham Accords were signed

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

A recent CFI lunch addressed by James Cleverly
A recent CFI lunch addressed by James Cleverly

A Conservative peer has praised Rishi Sunak after he announced the government would vote to oppose Palestinian move for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s occupation at the United Nations.

After the Prime Minister confirmed at the Conservative Friends of Israel lunch on Monday that the UK would now vote to block the move, the group’s honorary president Lord Polak hailed the apparent change in approach.

He noted that on an earlier vote only a fortnight ago the UK had instead abstained.

Sunak issued a challenge to current foreign secretary James Cleverly, urging him to ensure consistency in future

Thanking Sunak for his actions, Polak told the CFI lunch:”It really, really shouldn’t be that difficult” for the UK to side with ” allies” over what he said were one-sided motions.

The United Nations General Assembly will this week hold a vote on whether to ask the ICJ for an advisory opinion on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Polak was also critical of the government’s slow recognition of the opportunities presented by the Abraham Accords, agreed between Israel and several Gulf States.

He suggested the UK were “not at the table” as the deal was first struck, and urged the Sunak led party to recognise what he said were obvious commercial opportunities from the accords.

Polak also heaped praise on short-lived PM Liz Truss for her approach to relations with Israel and the Middle East.

And he issued a challenge to current foreign secretary James Cleverly, urging him to ensure consistency

As he spoke, the CFI official also read out a letter sent from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be read out to the 700 guests at the lunch.

He wrote:”I wish to personally thank you and the British People for your brave camaraderie in support of Ukraine, during our own battle for survival and independence.

“In the spirit of the upcoming Chanukka holiday, you are unapologetic role models in your dedication tothe triumph of the forces of light over darkness.

“As the famous quote by Shammai in Pirkei Avot says, ‘Say Little, Do Much’. You have been strong not with empty promises, but with bold actions.

“The support of the British People continues to save endless innocent lives every single day, and shine a bright light across the entire world.

“While winter is upon us in Ukraine, we perhaps face our greatest challenge yet.

“However, our hearts are warmed and strengthened by your enduring friendship. As Winston Churchill once said: ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.'”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also spoke to the packed CFI event, describing the Abraham Accords as an “important, visible friendship between Israel and the Arab world.”

Cleverly spoke of the influence attending a CFI fact finding trip to Israel in 2016 had played on his wider insight into the region.

Despite the obvious challenges around Israel and its relations with its neighbours, Cleverly said “I’m an actual optimist.”

He added that Israel’s successes in numerous areas had come about because “there is an optimism and energy and positivity” which he said was the country’s “hallmark.”




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